Latex Allergy

Table of Contents

latex gloves

Latex allergy describes an immunologic reaction to either the proteins found in latex or to the chemical substances used in manufacturing latex. Natural latex is made from the sap of the rubber tree, named Hevea brasiliensis. The proteins found in this tree can evoke an allergic reaction.

Synthetic latex is manufactured from petrochemicals. If you show sensitivity to many chemicals, you may develop an allergy to latex due to contact with petroleum. Surgical gloves contain petrochemicals and cause many skin reactions.

You can experience an allergic reaction from direct contact or inhalation. Latex products release particles into the air that you can inhale. This can cause breathing problems for those that are allergic to latex. However, the most common cause of latex allergy involves touching latex gloves or balloons. Direct contact causes the most allergic reactions, especially allergic contact dermatitis.

Latex Allergy Symptoms

  • Itchy skin
  • Skin redness
  • Hives or rash
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Scratchy throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Allergy-induced anaphylaxis

If you’re allergic to latex, symptoms will occur depending on how sensitive you are to the allergen. Allergic reactions can get more severe the more you are exposed to latex. You should seek medical attention immediately after symptoms appear and avoid all products that contain latex.

Products That Contain Latex And Should Be Avoided

Dishwashing gloves Some types of carpeting
Balloons Rubber toys
Hot water bottles Rubber bands
Swim goggles Condoms
Racket handles Surgical masks

People that are allergic to latex can’t use most condoms. This is a huge problem for some people because it warrants unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. There are non-latex condoms, but they usually cost more than latex condoms. They also don’t stretch as much as latex, so it’s easier to break. Another downfall is that some non-latex brands do not protect against sexually transmitted infections.

Latex Allergy Cross-reactivity

If you’re allergic to latex you may be allergic to some fruits and nuts. This is because certain foods contain the same allergens found in latex. Our immune systems identify the proteins in these foods and register them as harmful. This condition is commonly referred to as a latex‐fruit syndrome. 30%-50% of individuals with a latex allergy show sensitivity to plant-based foods. These foods include:

Avocado Banana Chestnut
Kiwi Passionfruit Melon

The most-reported allergy related to this cross-reactivity is an avocado allergy. Those who are allergic to avocado and latex exhibit most of the same symptoms.

Diagnosing A Latex Allergy

A latex allergy can be diagnosed with an allergy test or a skin prick test. An allergist will safely administer the test by pricking the skin with a small amount of the allergen, followed by introducing the allergen beneath the skin if no reaction is observed by the skin prick. This method is called intradermal testing, however, at NY Allergy & Sinus Centers, we use a non-invasive method that does not involve skin prick testing.

Since latex is known to cause severe allergic reactions, your doctor will have epinephrine on hand to treat any symptoms.

Latex Allergy Treatment

There isn’t a cure for latex allergies, but medications can help treat symptoms. For less severe symptoms, antihistamines and corticosteroids are available to help relieve discomfort. If you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to latex in the past, you should carry epinephrine with you. Your doctor will teach you how to administer the injection.

The allergists at NY Allergy & Sinus Centers are experts in allergy and immunology. We will create a personalized treatment plan for your latex allergy. Call (212) 686-6321 to start your treatment today.

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