If you have a latex allergy, your skin or mucous membranes (eyes, mouth, nose, or other moist areas), or blood react when latex touches them. A severe latex allergy can affect breathing and cause other serious problems.
Latex is made from the sap of rubber trees. It is very strong and stretchy. Because of this, it is used in a lot of common household items and toys.
Home Items that Might Contain Latex
Below is a list of items that may contain latex. Other items that are not on this list could also contain latex.
Condoms and diaphragms
Baby-bottle nipples and pacifiers
Clothing, including rain coats and elastic on underwear
Food that was prepared by someone who was wearing latex gloves
Handles on sports racquets and tools
Diapers, sanitary napkins, and other pads, such as Depends
Buttons and switches on computers and other electronic devices
You may develop a latex allergy if you are allergic to foods that have the same proteins that are in latex. These foods are:
Some other foods that are less strongly linked with latex allergy are kiwi, peaches, nectarines, celery, melons, tomatoes, papayas, figs, potatoes, apples, and carrots.
Latex allergy is diagnosed by how you have reacted to latex in the past. If you developed a rash or other symptoms after contact with latex, you may be allergic to latex. Your health care provider can use allergy skin testing to see if you have a latex allergy.
A blood test can also be done. This may help your doctor tell whether you are allergic to latex.
How to Avoid Latex
Always notify any, doctor, nurse, dentist, or person who draws blood that you have concerns about a latex allergy.
More and more, people wear gloves in the workplace and elsewhere to protect their hands and avoid germs. These tips can help you avoid latex:
If people use latex products in your workplace, tell your employer you are allergic to it. Stay away from areas at work where latex is used.
Wear a medical alert bracelet so that others know you are allergic to latex, in case you have a medical emergency.
Carry a pair of vinyl or other non-latex gloves with you and have more at home. Wear them when you handle items that:
Someone who wore latex gloves touched
May have latex in them but you are not sure
Make sure daycare providers, babysitters, teachers, and your child’s friends and their families know your child has a latex allergy.
Tell your child’s dentist and other health care providers such as doctors and nurses.
Teach your child to avoid toys and other products that contain latex.
Choose toys that are made of wood, metal, or cloth that does contain elastic. If you are not sure if a toy has latex, check the packaging or call the toy maker.
When to Call Your Health Care Provider
Your health care provider may prescribe epinephrine if you are at risk for a severe allergic reaction to latex.
This medicine is injected. It slows down or stops allergic reactions.
Carry this medicine with you if you have had a severe reaction to latex in the past.
Call your health care provider if you think you may be allergic to latex. It is easier to diagnose a
latex allergy when you are having a reaction. Some symptoms of latex allergy are:
Dry, itchy skin
Skin redness and swelling
Watery, itchy eyes
Wheezing or coughing
If a severe allergic reaction occurs, call 9-1-1 right away. Some of these symptoms are:
Difficulty breathing or swallowing
Dizziness or fainting
Vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach cramps
Pale or red skin
Symptoms of shock (these may include shallow breathing, cold and clammy skin, and weakness)
Pien LC. Allergy and immunology. In: Cary WD, ed. Current Clinical Medicine. 2nd Ed. Cleveland Clinic. 2010.
Stuart I. Henochowicz, MD, FACP, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Rheumatology, Georgetown University Medical School. Also reviewed by Stuart I. Henochowicz, MD, FACP, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Rheumatology, Georgetown University Medical School.