A latex allergy causes a reaction to natural rubber latex which comes from the sap of the rubber tree.  Lots of different products are made from latex including disposable gloves, condoms, and balloons.  Those who are allergic to latex may have a reaction that ranges from mild to serious and it can even be fatal.  

Reactions in those with a latex allergy can often be triggered by inhaling latex particles or physically coming into contact with latex itself.  

What Are The Symptoms Of A Latex Allergy?

Symptoms of a latex allergic reaction can include irritated skin, a rash, hives, runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes and throat and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing, wheezing, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal ailments and even anaphylaxis.  Unfortunately there is not a cure for this type of allergy.  Those who are allergic should avoid coming into contact with latex, ensure that it is noted on their medical records and may wish to consider wearing a medical alert wristband, which may be beneficial in the case of an accident or emergency.  

How Common Is A Latex Allergy?

Latex allergies have become less common since the 1990s, with approximately less than 1 in 1000 people affected in the UK.  The introduction of latex free and powder free gloves, amongst other products, has helped to reduce the amount of people with a latex allergy.  Anyone could develop a latex allergy but some are at a higher risk.  The risk factors could include:

  • Repeated exposure - frequent use could trigger the body to overreact and develop an allergic reaction.  Those who wear latex gloves regularly such as healthcare providers, dentists and those working in beauty establishments are at higher risk.
  • Frequent surgery -  anyone who has had multiple surgical procedures are at increased risk of developing a latex allergy.  This is particularly noticeable in children born with spina bifida who require multiple medical procedures and surgeries at a young age which include the use of catheters and gloves, both often made from latex.  
  • Allergy history - allergies such as hay fever can often occur alongside a latex allergy.  People who are allergic to latex may also be allergic to foods including bananas, kiwis and chestnuts.  

There Are 2 Types Of Latex Allergy

Type I - IgE-mediated latex allergy:

Someone with a type I latex allergy will be allergic to a protein from the rubber tree.  If exposed, the body’s immune system will induce an antibody response.  These antibodies cause the symptoms of an allergic reaction.  Type 1 latex allergies can be life-threatening.    

Type IV - Cell mediated contact dermatitis:

This type of allergic reaction causes contact dermatitis - irritation and inflammation to the skin.  Blisters may form and exude fluid.  Whilst this type of reaction is not life threatening it can be rather unpleasant and in some cases, can progress to an IgE-mediated latex allergy.

How To Prevent An  Allergic Reaction To Latex

Whilst there is no way to prevent a latex allergy, there are ways to reduce the chances of an allergic reaction.  If you are aware of your latex allergy then you should avoid anything that contains latex.  You should inform your doctor or dentist before any procedures are carried out and request that they use latex free gloves and equipment.  If your allergy is severe, you should notify anyone preparing food for you such as a restaurant about your allergy and ask that they wear alternative gloves.  

Often, many household items and even clothing contain latex.  You will need to read labels very carefully and avoid anything that contains latex such as: 

  • Balloons
  • Condoms
  • Sanitary products
  • Elasticated clothing, raincoats & boots
  • Plasters & bandages
  • Baby bottle teats and dummies
  • Make up, face paint & masks

As we briefly mentioned earlier, there are some foods that could trigger an allergic reaction in people with a latex allergy.  However, you should take advice from your healthcare provider before immediately avoiding such foods which could include: 

  • Chestnuts
  • Fruits such as - apples, bananas, avocados, peaches, kiwi, nectarines, melon, figs, papaya and tomatoes
  • Vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and celery


People with a latex allergy can usually manage the condition with the help of a healthcare professional.  Small lifestyle changes, reading labels carefully and avoiding foods that may cause a reaction are key to preventing an allergic reaction.  It is also worth ensuring that close friends and family are aware of your allergies.

In the case of an allergic reaction, seek help from a healthcare professional straight away.  


https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/8623-latex-allergy https://www.allergyuk.org/resources/rubber-latex-allergy/

Post By Kelly