How to Recognize or Prevent a Latex Allergy

Four Parts:Knowing If You Are At RiskRecognize if you are affectedSeeking TreatmentPrevent Reactions

Latex allergy is an ever increasing problem. It is an allergic reaction to the proteins in natural rubber latex, and certain people are more at risk than others. Like any allergy, the more one is exposed, the more risk of developing and allergic reaction. This article is intended to increase awareness, show you how to identify those at risk or have allergic reactions, and how to prevent and treat this allergy.

Part 1
Knowing If You Are At Risk

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    Figure out if you are at risk. Many people are at risk, and you should know if you are too. People who are at risk are:
    • Those with spina bifida (myelomeningocele)
    • Healthcare workers and rubber industry workers
    • People who have had repeated exposure through multiple surgeries, repeated exposure to: latex tipped urinary catheters, medical equipment with latex, condoms, rubber latex gloves, and other household or pubic use of rubber latex products (this includes breathing in the protein molecules suspended in the air by use of powder on latex gloves, etc.),
    • People who have food allergies that have protein molecules that simulate the proteins in latex: the most common being banana, fig, tomato, strawberry, tropical fruits, and chestnut/hazelnut

Part 2
Recognize if you are affected

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    Know if you are being affected. Some common reactions are:
    • Atopic Dermatitis It is characterized by dry, itchy, and/or reddened skin. There can be localized scaling and/or lesions. It is a sensitivity rather than an allergy, and can be made worse by powdered gloves and harsh cleansers.
    • Allergic Contact Dermatitis. This may not always show up right away, but when it does manifest, it does so with red raised lesions that are itchy and painful and can spread to other areas of the body. The lesions can resemble other contact reactions such as poison ivy and poison oak. They usually get worse with repeated use or contact with latex products.
    • Immediate allergic reaction. It manifests right away, sometimes starting with irritated eye and hay fever type symptoms, but can rapidly progress to rapid heartbeat, palpitations, difficulty breathing. This is a serious condition and is often referred to as anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock. Untreated, it can lead to death.

Part 3
Seeking Treatment

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    Avoid contact with rubber latex. There are usually synthetic alternatives to latex, so do some research. Medical facilities have latex-free treatment options, so always let them know you are sensitive to latex.
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    Use an epi-pen. For the more severe reaction, treatment consists of antihistamines, steroids, and in very severe cases, epinephrine. Those individuals who have this reaction should keep that information on them at all times and carry an epi-pen.

Part 4
Prevent Reactions

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    Look for synthetic alternatives in the most common places that rubber latex is found, that includes, (but in no way is limited to): rubber elastic bands, rubber latex gloves, condoms, baby-bottle nipples and pacifiers, and balloons.
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    Read labels on items for home and business, tags on clothes, even labels on feminine hygiene products.
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    Check to make sure all foods and treatments were prepared without latex utensils or equipment. Avoid the problem foods mentioned above.


  • This article is not intended to substitute for getting competent medical care. If you suspect you may have a latex allergy, see your physician.

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Allergies and Immunization