Latex Allergy

Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic

Allergists, Asthma Specialists, & Immunologists located in the Pacific Region

Latex allergies aren’t common, but they’re potentially dangerous, as they can cause a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction. The doctors at Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic can help you avoid latex and be sure you’re prepared for future reactions. To schedule an appointment, use the online booking feature or call one the 13 offices in four states: in Fremont, Oakland, Redwood City, Sunnyvale, San Mateo, and San Leandro, California; Clackamas and Gresham, Oregon; Bellevue, Fishers Landing, Longview, and Salmon Creek, Washington; and Eagle, Idaho.

Latex Allergy Q & A

What causes latex allergies?

You develop a latex allergy when your immune system perceives the protein in latex as a danger to your body. Every time you touch latex, your immune system releases chemicals that cause an allergic reaction.

It’s also possible to inhale latex when its proteins mix with the powder used inside latex gloves. When the gloves are removed, the powder and protein particles fly into the air, where they can get into your lungs and eyes.

Certain fruits and vegetables have proteins that are similar to the latex protein. If you have latex allergies, you may also develop an allergic reaction when eating foods such as bananas, avocados, kiwi, carrots, papaya, and tomatoes.

What common products contain latex?

Latex is a natural rubber that comes from the sap of rubber trees. The sap is mixed with chemicals that give it an elastic quality, making it the perfect ingredient for everyday items such as:

  • Balloons
  • Rubber bands
  • Rubber balls
  • Bandages
  • Medical tape
  • Condoms
  • Diaphragms
  • Gloves (dishwashing and medical)

Latex is also frequently used to make pacifiers and bottle nipples.

What symptoms develop due to latex allergies?

Your symptoms may range from mild to extreme, depending on the severity of your allergy and the number of latex proteins you touch or inhale. Your reaction can get worse with each new exposure.

Latex allergies cause:

  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Skin redness
  • Rash at the site of contact
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Scratchy throat

Latex is one of the top allergens responsible for causing a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction. If you experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing, wheezing, throat tightness, dizziness, or a rapid heartbeat, get emergency medical attention.

How are latex allergies treated?

After reviewing your medical history and symptoms, your doctor at Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic may perform a skin test to see if you develop a reaction to a small drop of latex. Blood tests may also be needed to check for immune system antibodies.

Although medications may relieve your symptoms, the only treatment is to avoid all items containing latex. In addition to making sure not to touch latex products, you should also be sure medical professionals know about your allergy so they won’t use latex gloves or tape.

Your doctor at Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic may prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector that should be with you at all times. A quick shot of epinephrine is the first line of treatment for anaphylaxis. 

If you suspect you have a latex allergy, call Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic or schedule an appointment online.