As the healthcare industry began to adopt more stringent infection-control processes and procedures in the s, the number of Americans who developed an allergy to latex began to rise. Latex allergy is relatively uncommon. This is particularly true in recent years as use of the highly sensitizing powdered latex gloves has drastically declined. While manufacturers have replaced natural rubber latex with other synthetic materials in many healthcare products to prevent allergic reactions, those with the condition remain concerned about exposure.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Allergic reactions and rashes: Causes, diagnosis, and treatment
Latex is natural rubber, a product made primarily from the rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis. Some people develop allergic reactions after repeated contact with latex, especially latex gloves. Allergy to latex is an increasing health problem. Latex reactions can vary from minor to life-threatening, or they may progress from a less serious reaction to a more serious one. Examples include:. Latex allergy usually affects people who are routinely exposed to rubber products, such as health care workers and rubber industry workers, and people who have had multiple surgeries or multiple medical procedures in which latex equipment and supplies were used. People who have allergies to foods, such as bananas, chestnuts, kiwifruit, avocados, and tomatoes, have an increased risk of developing latex allergy.
Allergenic Foods and their Allergens, with links to Informall
An allergy is when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance, called an allergen. It could be something you eat, inhale into your lungs, inject into your body or touch. This reaction could cause coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, a runny nose and a scratchy throat. In severe cases, it can cause rashes, hives, low blood pressure, breathing trouble, asthma attacks and even death.
Diagnosis is sometime a challenge. Your doctor will examine your skin and ask questions about your symptoms and medical history. Tell your doctor about your reactions to latex and if you've had any other allergy signs and symptoms. Your doctor will also ask questions to rule out other reasons for your symptoms. A skin test can help determine if your skin reacts to the latex protein.