Latex allergy: Wikis


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Latex allergy
Classification and external resources

Latex medical glove
ICD-9 V15.07
MeSH D020315

Latex allergy is a medical term encompassing a range of allergic reactions to natural rubber latex.



Latex is known to cause 2 of the 4 (or 5) types of hypersensitivity.


Type I

The most serious and rare form, type I is an immediate and potentially life-threatening reaction, not unlike the severe reaction some people have to bee stings. Such reactions account for a significant proportion of perioperative anaphylactic reaction, especially in children with myelomeningocele.

Testing for type I natural rubber latex allergy is through blood testing, such as RAST (radioallergosorbent test) identifies what types of IgE proteins trigger allergic reactions. While the standard for allergen testing is the skin prick test, there is no approved skin testing reagent for latex in the United States at this time. Some other countries do have approved skin testing reagents for natural rubber latex. Some people who are allergic to latex are also allergic to clothes, shoes, and other things that contain natural rubber latex—for example elastic bands, rubber gloves, condoms, pacifiers and baby-bottle nipples, balloons, cars, and clothing containing natural rubber based elastic. Synthetic elastic such as elastane or neoprene do not contain the proteins that trigger type I reactions. Type I natural rubber latex allergy is caused from IgE (immune) mediated reactions to proteins found in the Hevea brasiliensis tree, a type of rubber tree. Synthetic latex products do not contain the proteins from the Hevea brasiliensis tree and will not cause this type of reaction. Products made from guayule natural rubber emulsions also do not contain the proteins from the Hevea rubber tree and have only trace amounts of other proteins, indicating a very low potential for causing sensitization to this material. Additionally, chemical treatment to reduce the amount of antigenic proteins in Hevea latex has yielded alternative materials, such as Vytex Natural Rubber Latex, which reduce exposure to latex allergens while otherwise retaining the properties of natural rubber.

Type IV (allergic contact dermatitis)

Also known as allergic contact dermatitis. This involves a delayed skin rash that is similar to poison ivy with blistering and oozing of the skin (see urushiol-induced contact dermatitis). This type is caused by a naturally occurring latex protein.

Type IV reactions are caused by the chemicals used to process the rubber. Patch testing needs to be done to verify which type of chemical triggers the reaction. Once the chemical is identified, then the person can choose products that are not processed with that chemical. Both natural rubber and synthetic rubber products may cause type IV reactions.

Irritant contact dermatitis

It can also cause irritant contact dermatitis:[1] The most common type of reaction. This causes dry, itchy, irritated areas on the skin, most often on the hands. It can be caused by the irritation of using gloves, or it can also be caused by exposure to other workplace products. Frequent washing of the hands, incomplete drying, exposure to hand sanitizers, and the talc-like powder coatings (zinc oxide, etc) used with gloves can aggravate symptoms. Irritant contact dermatitis is not a true allergy.

Those at greatest risk

  • Children with myelomeningocele Spina bifida. Between 40% to 100% will have a reaction.
  • Industrial rubber workers, exposed for long periods to high amounts of latex. About 10% have an allergic reaction.
  • Healthcare workers. Given the ubiquitous use of latex products in health care settings, management of latex allergy presents significant health organizational problems. Healthcare workers who frequently use latex gloves and other latex-containing medical supplies such as physicians, nurses, aides, dentists, dental hygienists, operating room employees, laboratory technicians, and hospital housekeeping personnel are at risk for developing latex allergy.[2] Between about 4% to 17% of healthcare workers have a reaction, this usually presents as Irritant Contact Dermatitis, and can develop through allergic sensitivity to a status of full anaphylaxis shock; with health workers losing their vocation.[3] In the surgical setting, however, the risk of a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction by a patient has been deemed by Johns Hopkins Hospital to be sufficiently high to replace all latex surgical gloves with synthetic alternatives.[4]
  • People who have had multiple surgical procedures, especially in childhood.

Estimates of latex sensitivity in the general population range from 0.8% to 8.2%[5], although not all will ever develop a noticeable allergic reaction.

Latex and foods

Some people who have latex allergy may also have an allergic response to any of a number of plant products, usually fruits. This is known as the latex-fruit syndrome.[6] Fruits (and seeds) involved in this syndrome include banana, pineapple, avocado, chestnut, kiwi fruit, mango, passionfruit, strawberry, and soy. Some but not all of these fruits contain a form of latex. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates that nearly 6 percent of the United States population have some type of food allergy and up to 4 percent have an allergy to latex.[7] It can also cause reactions from foods touched by latex products in the most severe cases.

Some individuals who are highly allergic to latex have had allergic reactions to foods that were handled or prepared by people wearing latex gloves.

See also


  1. ^ "Latex Allergy". Retrieved 2009-08-08.  
  2. ^ "NIOSH Alert:Preventing Allergic Reactions to Natural Rubber Latex in the Workplace". United States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Retrieved 2008-01-20.  
  3. ^ Latex Allergy
  4. ^ WJZ 13 (CBS) (2008-01-15). "Hopkins ceases use of latex gloves during surgery". Baltimore. Retrieved 2009-07-30.  
  5. ^ Grzybowski, M., Ownby, D., Rivers, E., Ander, D., Nowak, R. (October 2002). “The Prevalence of Latex-Specific IgE in Patients Presenting to an Urban Emergency Department”. Annals of Emergency Medicine 40(4), 411-419.
  6. ^ Brehler R, Theissen U, Mohr C, Luger T (April 1997). ""Latex-fruit syndrome": frequency of cross-reacting IgE antibodies". Allergy 52 (4): 404–10. doi:10.1111/j.1398-9995.1997.tb01019.x. PMID 9188921.  
  7. ^ “Allergy Facts and Figures,” Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

External links


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