Also called: Rubber Allergy
Latex allergies are a reaction to the flexible, elastic material used in many rubber products. Healthcare workers are among those most susceptible to the allergy, which is often triggered by exposure to the latex gloves and instruments that they use frequently in the workplace. Children with spina bifida (a birth defect of the bones covering the spinal cord) also have high incidences of the reaction, because they frequently are exposed to latex-based products during surgeries and treatments. When very high levels of latex are present, asthma symptoms can be triggered.
Most latex allergies are caused by exposure to dipped latex, a common material found in “stretchy” products such as rubber gloves, balloons, rubber bands and condoms. These products are especially powerful triggers because they usually come into direct contact with the skin. However, latex particles also can be inhaled once they become airborne.
Hardened rubber – found in products such as shoe soles, tires and rubber balls – rarely causes allergies in most people. Synthetic rubbers, such as those that are butyl- or petroleum-based, do not cause people to react. This includes products such as latex house paints.
There is no cure for latex allergies. However, symptoms can be reduced by avoiding latex and seeking out products which use nonallergenic substitutes in place of latex.