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Natural rubber latex comes from the Hevea brasiliensis tree which is found in Africa and Southeast Asia. Natural rubber latex should not be confused with synthetic rubber. Synthetic rubber products, including latex house paints, are not dangerous for people who are allergic to natural rubber latex.
In recent years, serious allergic reactions to latex have been more common. In rare cases, these reactions can be fatal. People with a latex allergy should limit or eliminate future exposure to latex products.
People who are at high risk for developing latex allergy include:
- Health care workers and others who frequently wear latex gloves
- Individuals who have multiple surgical procedures, such as children with spina bifida
- Individuals with other allergies, such as hay fever (allergic rhinitis) or allergy to certain foods
Generally, latex allergy develops after many exposures to latex. Latex allergy can cause symptoms of stuffy nose, hives, wheezing and difficulty breathing. The most severe cases can result in anaphylaxis, a very severe allergic reaction that affects many parts of the body all at one time.
Allergic skin problems can occur following direct contact with latex. Symptoms may include itching, redness and swelling of that part of the skin that touched the item containing latex.
Some skin problems resulting from the use of latex and non-latex gloves are often confused with latex allergy. These local skin problems are not life threatening, but may develop into latex allergy if latex exposure is continued.
It has been found that direct physical contact with latex products is not needed to trigger an allergic reaction. Anaphylaxis has resulted from inhaling latex proteins in the air resulting from the powder in the latex glove. (Source: ACAAI)
To learn more about latex allergies click here.
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