Latex Allergy Overview
This is more complicated than it seems because certain foods also contain latex-related chemicals and can also cause reactions for some people.
Latex Allergy Symptoms
The most common reaction is caused by direct contact with items that are either 100% latex (e.g. latex gloves, condoms etc.) or contain latex (elastic in socks, under garments etc.). This is called contact dermatitis.
Typical symptoms for contact with latex are similar to poison ivy. A red itchy rash breaks out 12 to 24 hours after direct contact with latex, and only in the area of the skin that touched the latex.
More severe symptoms occur in some cases, including blisters and crusted sores. This is more typically caused or accelerated by chemicals added to latex during production. Talc, used to make some latex products come on and off more easily, can also make symptoms worse.
Extended symptoms occur for some people, including shortness of breath, hives, stuffy nose, sneezing, asthma and itchy eyes.
Severe symptoms (type 1, anaphylactic shock) can occur in a small number of cases.
Latex Allergy Cause
Over-exposure to latex can sensitize your body to latex, and eventually cause a reaction. The reaction is caused by certain proteins in latex sap.
Children with Spina bifida (myelomeningocele) have a very high chance of being allergic or severely allergic to latex (figures range from 40% to 100%).
Industrial workers that process latex or are involved in producing latex-containing products have an elevated risk of developing a latex allergy.
Latex and Food
People who are allergic to latex are sometimes also allergic to certain foods. Foods related to the rubber tree include:
- Potato (raw)
- Stone fruits (e.g. plums)
If you are allergic to latex, do not be paranoid about consuming these foods. If you are experiencing unexplained symptoms, try eliminating these foods and see if the symptoms disappear. If so, introduce each food one by one, waiting 48 hours before determining if that food is OK or not. Try each food one at a time until you know which you can tolerate, and which (if any) you can not.