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Latex Allergy

What is a latex allergy?

Natural rubber latex, a milky fluid found in rubber trees, has a contaminating protein in the rubber that causes allergic reactions, not with the rubber itself. Different types of gloves, condoms, balloons, rubber bands, erasers, and toys are made from natural rubber latex. Children and adults have developed an allergy or sensitivity to latex. Reactions can be seen when products made from latex come in contact with the person’s skin, mucous membranes (like the mouth, genitals, bladder or rectum), or the bloodstream (during surgery). Some people may react when blowing up a rubber balloon or breathing in powder from the inside of latex gloves.

Who is at risk for developing latex allergy?

Some people are more likely to become latex sensitive. These are people who have frequent exposure to latex from medical procedures. This group includes:

  • children with spina bifida
  • children born with urologic anomalies
  • children or adults who have had many surgeries

People who have allergies to certain foods may also have a latex allergy. Both the foods and the latex may have some of the same proteins. Commonly eaten foods which contain some of the same proteins as latex include: bananas, avocados, chestnuts, kiwi, passion fruit, papaya, figs, peaches, nectarines, plums, tomatoes, and celery.

If you are allergic to latex:
  • Avoid ALL latex products at home and in the hospital. Use items that do not have latex in them.
  • Ask your physician to evaluate you for pre-medication before surgery to help prevent a reaction.
  • Use a Medic-Alert bracelet or necklace.
  • Carry a pair of non-latex gloves with you, information about latex allergies, and/or a note from your physician.
  • Be sure hospital and school (for a child with a latex allergy) records have a latex allergy alert.
  • For a child with a latex allergy, teach him/her child to know and avoid latex products.
  • Ask your physician about the use of injectable epinephrine. Have it available for yourself and your child in all surroundings (at home, in the car, at daycare, or at work)
  • Know what to do in case of an emergency. Discuss this with your child’s physician and school nurse (for a child with a latex allergy).
  • Avoid areas where you may inhale latex molecules from healthcare workers.

Please note: Avoiding latex products may decrease the chance of developing this allergy for your child.