Allergic reactions to products made with latex occur when the immune system overreacts to the proteins found in natural rubber latex. Natural rubber latex comes from the sap of the rubber tree and can cause an allergy whereas synthetic latex, rubber made from chemicals, does not produce an allergic reaction.
Latex is a common component used in many medical supplies and consumer products.
The most common items containing latex include:
- Disposable gloves
- Medical supplies-tubing, syringes, catheters, bandages, etc.
- Athletic shoes
- Waistbands in pants and underwear
- Baby pacifiers and nipples
A latex allergy typically develops over repeated exposure. Once an allergy has been established, symptoms usually appear within minutes of exposure to latex containing products.
The most common latex allergy symptoms include:
- Skin rash or hives
- Wheezing or other breathing problems
To diagnose a latex allergy, you can meet with an allergist who will dive into your health history looking for any consistent triggers to determine if your symptoms are allergic or non-allergic. Your allergist may also recommend a blood test to determine a latex allergy.
Management and Treatment
The best treatment for a latex allergy is avoidance of products containing latex. You should also inform all health care providers of your allergy before you see them for any test or treatment.
If your latex allergy is life threatening, injectable epinephrine is usually prescribed as emergency medication for treating a life-threatening allergy.