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Latex Allergy Issue Toolkit

Background | Resources | Articles



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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Contact Dermatitis and Latex Allergy

Occupationally related contact dermatitis can develop from frequent and repeated use of hand hygiene products, exposure to chemicals, and glove use.
Latex Allergy A Prevention Guide
Latex gloves have proved effective in preventing transmission of many infectious diseases to health care workers. But for some workers, exposures to latex may result in allergic reactionsa.html. Reports of such reactions have increased in recent years--especially among health care workers.
NIOSH Safety and Health Topic: Occupational Latex Allergies General information from NIOSH.

Safety and Health Topics
Latex Allergy

Allergy to latex was first recognized in the late 1970s. Since then, it has become a major health concern as an increased number of people in the workplace are affected.
Allergy to Latex Rubber
An Oral Health Topic from the ADA. Includes information for both the dentist and the patient.

Allergic Reactions to Latex Are Real

An FDA PowerPoint presentation.
Latex Allergy - Information for Health Professionals People who experience allergic symptoms should avoid contact until medically evaluated. Some other chemicals used in the manufacture of gloves may also cause sensitization and serious reactions, particularly skin reactions.
American Latex Allergy Association The mission of the American Latex Allergy Association is to create awareness of latex allergy through education and to provide support to individuals who have been diagnosed with latex allergy.
Latex Allergy Policy From the School of Dentistry University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Latex Allergy Links An extensive listing of information.
Allergic Reactions, From Simple to Severe Medscape Slide Show

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Using Powder-Free Latex Gloves Reduces Latex Allergy Rate in Health Care Workers Airborne latex allergens spread by cornstarch used to powder gloves.
AAAAI: Latex Allergies in OR Workers Decline The introduction of non-powdered latex gloves a decade ago resulted in a marked reduction of latex-related allergies among operating room personnel, researchers said here.
Estimating allergenicity of latex gloves using Hev b 1 and hevamine The results suggest that the measurement of residual extractable total proteins is not sufficient to assess the allergenicity of latex gloves and that Hev b 1 and hevamine may be used as indicator allergens in areas where they are major latex allergens, such as Taiwan.
Cucumber anaphylaxis in a latex-sensitized patient We present a case of IgE-mediated allergy to cucumber and papaya. Our results strongly suggest that the allergen(s) implicated are associated with latex sensitization. To our knowledge, this is the first report of cucumber-latex and cucumber-papaya cross-reactivity.
Latex allergy Allergy to natural rubber latex is an important clinical condition that occurred after the institution of universal precautions to protect healthcare workers.
Latex allergy symptoms among health care workers: results from a university health and safety This surveillance program identified risk factors for latex allergy symptoms. Our findings provide a basis for tailoring future prevention strategies.
Prevalence of latex allergy among healthcare workers Prevalence of latex allergy is high among healthcare workers in this study population. Environmental factors rather than genetic predisposition play the major role in the development of this condition.
Latex medical gloves: time for a reappraisal Given the excellent barrier properties and operating characteristics, dramatically reduced incidences of allergic reactions, availability of specific tests for selection of low-allergen gloves, competitive costs and low environmental impact, the use of NRL gloves within the hospital environment warrants reappraisal.
Patch Testing with Natural Rubber Latex: The Mayo Clinic Experience NRL is as common a cause of allergic contact dermatitis as many of the other allergens included in a specialized rubber allergen series. Patients suspected to be allergic to rubber should be patch-tested with NRL (provided they do not have type 1 hypersensitivity to NRL).
Allergic Contact Dermatitis to Synthetic Rubber Gloves: Changing Trends in Patch Test Reactions to Accelerators Rubber gloves are one of the most frequent causes of occupational allergic contact dermatitis, especially in health care workers.
The German experience 10 years after the latex allergy epidemic: need for further preventive measure Although most subjects had only mild disease, ongoing work-related symptoms of the eyes, nose or airways in a substantial number of subjects with latex allergy suggest the need for further secondary preventive measures in German healthcare.
Latex Allergy and Dental Care Information provided by the Cleveland Clinic.
Latex allergy in dentistry. Review and report of case presenting as a serious reaction to latex dental dam This report describes a patient who underwent a reaction to latex dental dam manifesting as erythema, facial swelling and mild airway compromise.
Natural rubber latex allergy and dental practice Knowledge of the availability of substitute products and an adequate fresh stock of such products in dental practice can minimise the risk of adverse NRL sensitivity.
New Type of Latex Glove Cleared This is the first medical device made from guayule latex, a new form of natural rubber latex.
Experts Address Glove-Related Latex Allergies Gloves are the workhorses of personal protective equipment (PPE), serving as a barrier to protect healthcare workers (HCWs) from a wide variety of hazardous substances, including viruses and bacteria found in blood and body fluids, as well as chemicals, detergents and sterilants encountered in the healthcare setting.
Latex Lurks in Unexpected Places Latex Can Be a Scourge for Those With Latex Allergies
Allergy to cassava: a new allergenic food with cross-reactivity to latex Patients who are allergic to latex (Hevea brasiliensis) may exhibit cross-hypersensitivity with foods.
Latex allergy: a follow up study of 1040
healthcare workers
Simple measures such as the avoidance of unnecessary glove use, the use of non-powdered latex gloves by all workers, and use of non-latex gloves by sensitised subjects can stop the progression of latex symptoms and can avoid new cases of sensitisation.

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