Latex Allergy | Allergy

Latex Allergy

by Allergy Guy

Latex Allergy Overview

Latex allergies are relatively common – up to 4% of the population(1), and 10% of health care workers.

Avoiding latex products is the best strategy to avoid latex allergy symptoms. The trick is knowing products that contain latex.

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:

  • Banana
  • Avocado
  • Celery
  • Chestnut
  • Hazelnut
  • Peaches
  • Papaya
  • Potato (raw)
  • Stone fruits (e.g. plums)
  • Strawberry
  • Tomato
  • Kiwifruit

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.


Foot Notes

1: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (facts and figures)

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lourie November 17, 2013 at 01:51

after touching certain trash bags at work in school cafeteria my hands swelled up and blisters were on my hands what could have caused this reaction

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2 Guest June 5, 2009 at 11:43

Severe Latex Allergy and the Medical Field

I’ve been in the medical field for two years. Within these two years I have developed issues with latex gloves, balloons, and anything containing the latex substance. Including but not limited to; swelling and hives of my face and hands, itching and redness, itchy watery eyes followed by swelling of my eye lids, and more. I cut out latex gloves from work, opting for, coincidentally more durable, synthetic. Recently preparing for a procedure I was speaking with my surgeon he explained the difference between a “true latex allergy” and a “latex sensativity”. He explained that with my “true latex allergy” if I even inhaled dust from a box of just opened latex gloves it could send me into anaphalixis (immediate and severe reaction; most commonly characterized by swelling of the face and throat) That was enough to change my career and every day life to pointedly avoid all things latex or rubber. “Latex sensativity” includes simliar symptoms with less severity, he explained, and is most generally the cause of most latex complaints.

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3 checkout worker April 14, 2009 at 18:07

cracked knuckles

I work at a checkout in a supermarket three days a week, and my knuckles (after my first day) looked as though they’d been cut with razor blades. I wear fingerless gloves now and it’s healing nicely.

I think it’s a reaction to the plastic bags, as working in the chiller doesn’t bother my hands at all. I think I am slightly allergic to latex too, but I’m not sure. Does anyone else have this problem of cracked hands? It’s so painful and the cuts are surprisingly deep for a reaction. It’s like the skin just dried up superfast and me using my hands just aggrivated it.

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4 Guest January 25, 2009 at 16:12

grocery bags

I do suspect I have a latex allergy because I am sensitive to band aids to the point I don’t wear them unless I really need one. I also work at a daycare and had much more trouble with my hands getting cracked and sore when we used the latex gloves than now that we don’t. I have the same thing with the grocery bags causing a rash on my arm. It sounds like it may not be latex from some of the comments above, but it is something and I am sure it is not sweat because it happens in a short time and I never notice any sweat (I don’t sweat easily I am usually cold) so I believe there is some kind of allergen in grocery bags. It may be the print I haven’t tested that theory. I also get an allergic reaction near the checkouts at most grocery stores (sneezing and watery itchy eyes) does that happen to anyone else? Just wondering

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5 Guest November 2, 2009 at 20:42

yeah, you’re allergic to it.

yeah, you’re allergic to it. Also for me I find that I get little itchy blisters on the area.

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6 Marion Ronee Daney October 17, 2010 at 23:35

Hello, many thing contain Latex. I have Latex Allergy, I stated breaking out at work while using latex gloves. I am disabled. It is a very serious allergy, if any one is aware of break outs after using Latex gloves, Condoms, or notice shortness of breathe you should bring make sure your Doctor is aware of this problem. If in the future you had to have surgery or even going to the Dentist you could have a very Serious Reactions.

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7 Deb July 27, 2008 at 14:01

Plastic Garbage Bags

I was sitting on a plastic garbage bag in my car (came out of ocean and didn’t want to get seat wet). I have a bad rash on lower back, legs and butt where I was sitting. It looks like hives. Would that make sense? I think it was that I was sweating but also it isn’t breathable material either so that may be important (and even increase the sweating). The pictures of heat rash though look very different.

Deb

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8 admin July 30, 2008 at 10:48

Could be – see if it happens again

From your description it could either be an allergy to the bag (unlikely but possible) or something caused by the sweat and salt.

Next time, cover the bag with your towel and you should be OK.

I’m quite sure there is no latex in garbage bags, so I doubt what you experienced is related to a latex allergy (especially if you are OK with rubber gloves, condoms etc.)

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9 ccd August 12, 2016 at 11:14

My daughter has a latex allergy and can only handle touching Glad trash bags. I don’t know why other brands affect her and not Glad, but that is now the only brand we buy. She breaks out in hives within minutes of touching other trash bags.

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10 Allergy Guy December 11, 2016 at 21:38

Probably some brands use latex powder to make it easier to separate the bags, and Glad uses something else. Just a guess.

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11 Anonymous July 23, 2008 at 08:30

I am having the same issue.

I am having the same issue. Every time I carry grocery bags for more than 2-3 minutes, my arms are covered in hives. Does anyone know the cause?? I’m hoping its latex because I have had “other” issues that I’m hoping relate to latex.

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12 Anonymous August 1, 2008 at 14:01

latex and grocery bags

Well I am also having issues with reaccuring yeast infections that I can’t get rid of. I was wondering if an allergy to latex is causing it???? I am doing a process of elimination, and resently I broke out with hives after caring grocery bags. Does anyone have any tips or similar issues??

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13 Tammy montoya January 5, 2016 at 10:09

No I am experiencing this also. I went to the store. Can home and my palms and fingers are red and itchy with hives. I am allergic to laxtex. I am trying to find out if these bags contain any traces of latex . So I am going to continue to monitor it. May I suggest if you think you are allergic to something. Go see a dermatologist. I am allergic to tomatoes and cherries. Tomatoes all my life. At the age of 29 I was about to enjoy cheerrie I got from a farmers market. I started to notice it was getting hard to swallow. I went to the er. They had to give me four different medicines to react. I now a script for each. So do find what you are allergic to . As allergies can worsen. My husband is allergic to yellow bees. We have to administer two shots of the epi pen. We have 4 mins to get him to er. His organs start to swell. So please take care itcan be life saving. Good luck

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14 Anonymous May 5, 2008 at 15:25

I don’t think my particular

I don’t think my particular problem has to do with the print on the bag. More recently, I took a trip to Florida and was wearing plastic flip-flops. At the end of the day, I noticed that I had hives on the top of my feet underneath the plastic straps. This is starting to make me think that the reaction does have something to do with sweat being trapped next to the skin. Also, one day after wearing a newer pair of dress pants, at the end of the day I had a huge hive on my stomach where the waistband was pressing against my skin all day. I am still puzzled by the occasional flare up on my forearms but am more closely paying attention.

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15 Anonymous February 23, 2008 at 01:13

Latex allergy

About 3 years ago, I started getting hives on my wrists. I started correlating it with carrying grocery bags on my wrists and most recently working with file labels. I read that grocery store belts often contain latex so I don’t know if there is a transfer of latex from the belt to the grocery bags or if the bags could have a latex component. My reaction is very red, itchy, burning with hives but nothing more than a small nuisance. Just curious.

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16 admin February 23, 2008 at 09:54

Latex and Grocery bags

As far as I know, plastic shopping bags do not contain any latex what so ever.

As for conveyor belts in grocery stores, I don’t have a definitive answer for you on that. I doubt that the bag handles would pick up much latex (if there is any released by the belt) compared to other parts of the bag, or compared to the groceries themselves. Still, it would be worth looking in to some more.

It may also be that the hives are caused by sweat that is trapped by the plastic while you are carrying the bags.

Consider other items you use in your life that are made of latex. Do any of these cause you a problem? (See Products Containing Latex)

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17 Anonymous March 17, 2008 at 16:49

Allergy to Grocery Bags

Did you ever find out if the grocery bags were the culprit? I have been experiencing a similar problem that started in December and I have noticed that it only occurs when I come into contact with grocery bags. My palms start to itch severely and then I get hives on my wrists and forearms only. Fortunately, they are not too severe and go away quickly. However, when I was out holiday shopping and had several bags on my wrists, the reaction was much worse, which was my first clue. I have since purposely exposed myself to the bags and sure enough, the reaction starts. Are we the only ones experiencing this problem and what would case the allergic reaction?

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18 admin March 18, 2008 at 19:54

Allergy to Printing On Grocery Bags?

I’m wondering if it could be the print on the bags rather than the bags themselves.

What is your reaction to bags that are just plain plastic with no printing at all? You might find these at smaller mom-and-pop stores rather than the big chains.

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19 Anonymous June 16, 2008 at 06:54

Plastic Grocery Bags and Hives

I have the same problem and it is not the print from the bags or sweat because I might carry the bag for less than one minute. I have the same reaction to the strap on my lunchbox (one of those 6 pack soft sided coolers).
The itiching is intense and the hives are red and hot but go away within 30 minutes at the most.

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