Health topics: What are the signs and symptoms of a latex allergy?

Latex allergy signs and symptoms. What are the types of latex allergies and how are they treated? What products contain latex in everyday life?

Natural rubber latex is a processed plant product of the milky cytosol of the tree Hevea braziliensis. Other chemicals and protein are added to form the rubber most commonly used today.

Health topics: What are the signs and symptoms of a latex allergy?

Risk groups who most commonly become allergic:

  • Health care workers
  • People with spina-bifida of any sort
  • Rubber industry workers
  • Those with compromised respiratory systems (asthma, COPD)
  • People who have had multiple surgical procedures

Risk group of food allergies that may react to latex:

  • Banana
  • Avocado
  • Chestnut, hazelnuts
  • Apricot
  • Kiwi, papaya, passion fruit, pineapple
  • Peach, nectarine, plum, cherry
  • Melon, fig, grape
  • Potato, tomato and celery
  • Apple, pear, carrot
  • Wheat, rye
  • Mugwort, profilin, potatin
  • Plant stress proteins and ficus

Note not all people allergic to these foods will develop a latex allergy. Depending on the sensitivity and severity of the allergic reaction will depend on other factors as well.

Types of reactions to latex

  • Contact dermatitis- when the individual allergic to latex comes in contact with the product they will develop dry, irritated, itchy skin usually caused by repeated hand washing and cracked skin. When the gloves are applied, the proteins irritate the hands. Some refer to this as not a true allergic reaction, but with repeated exposure, it may progress into a more severe reaction.
  • Allergic Chemical Dermatitis- with this reaction whatever skin is touched by the latex can start to blister much like a reaction to poison ivy or sumac. It can happen as much as 48 hours after contact with latex.
  • Latex Allergy- immediate reaction when in contact with any latex product causing mild symptoms such as hives, rash, itchy eyes. In the more moderate reactions swelling, blistering, asthma type sensitivities are seen. The most severe is anaphylactic reaction or shock.

Treating latex allergy can be as simple as taking Benadryl (anti-histamine), using a barrier between hands and gloves, or in a more severe case epinephrine is given. Patients who suffer from severe cases of latex allergy should carry Benadryl and what was once referred to as a “bee sting kit.” It is a portable epinephrine injectable pen.

Although avoidance of latex is the most optimal choice, it is sometimes very difficult. In our daily lives, we are exposed to latex in various forms.

Forms of latex in daily lives:

  • Hospital supplies, gloves, equipment, tubing, tourniquets, stoppers to the blood tubes.
  • People who have worn latex gloves or been touched by them and not washed their hands or parts that have been touched and come in contact with an allergic patient.
  • Dental supplies, mouth jacks, jams and supplies
  • Pencil erasers
  • Car tires
  • Balloons
  • Condoms
  • Rubber bands
  • Waist bands in undergarments
  • Dishwashing gloves
  • Band-Aids
  • Diaphragms
  • Pacifiers
  • Bottle Nipples
  • Expandable bracelets
  • Carpeting
  • House Paint
  • Silly Slime (Kid toy)
  • Rubberized handgrips
  • Exercise bands
  • Shoe soles
  • Mouse Pads
  • Coated buttons on Keyboards

As you can see a person with latex allergies, must omit or avoid various things in life to prevent a reaction. Telling others you are in contact with that you are allergic helps in controlling your exposure. There are alternatives to some of the products that are latex free.

Remember to be alert and know your surroundings. Tell your healthcare providers when going for appointments of your allergy. It is especially important to wear a medical alert band in case you are in an accident and are unable to speak to the EMT’s, otherwise your condition or illness will be compounded by exposure to latex while trying to treat you. Most facilities around the country now have latex free environments for patients who suffer from latex allergies.

The information contained in or made available through This Site cannot replace or substitute for the services of trained professionals in the medical field. We do not recommend any treatment, drug, food or supplement. You should regularly consult a doctor in all matters relating to physical or mental health, particularly concerning any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.

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