Can A Latex Allergy Be Airborne?

Allergies related to latex rubber are one of the serious concerns among workers; often sensitized towards latex gloves and similar types of natural rubber-based products, along with varieties of medical supplies. Even though symptoms related to latex allergy problem vary among cases, one of the common reactions related to latex products is developing itchy, dry and irritated areas on skin of patients.

Skin experts refer this problem as irritant contact dermatitis and it often takes place in hands. Other related reactions include skin blisters and rashes spreading away from the skin area remains in direct contact with latex and referred as allergic contact dermatitis. This type of reaction is almost similar to poison ivy type of reaction.

Can a Latex Allergy be Airborne?

An individual may even exposed to latex allergy when one inhales or breathes in air mixed with airborne latex particles, like for instance the particles released at the time of removing gloves. Since latex particles may be of airborne, it is not necessary that an individual have to touch any particular product containing latex. Reason behind this is simple i.e. dusts containing latex particles may settle on any nearby surface.

Severe reactions related to airborne latex allergy involve immediate hypersensitivity in combination with varieties of respiratory symptoms, like sneezing, runny nose, scratchy throat, itchy eyes and varieties of asthmatic symptoms, which include wheezing, coughing, breathing shortness, tightening of chest and varieties of severe actions, which include swelling of the lips, face and airways.

Although symptoms subside in no time with avoidance, an individual often remains sensitive to the problem. Other than this, a person may suffer from severe type of anaphylactic shock reaction, which is a type of life threatening reaction. In case any type of severe reaction takes place, you should look for the necessary medical help immediately.

Exact Cause of Airborne Latex Allergy

Latex may often become airborne to cause varieties of respiratory problems. For instance, latex proteins may attach to cornstarch powder used often in various latex gloves. Whenever medical professionals use powered form of latex gloves, latex allergens and related starch particles become airborne. Whenever you inhale or come in direct/indirect contact of such airborne allergens with eyes or nose, you experience symptoms.

Dermatologists have measured relatively higher concentration of the mentioned latex-based allergenic powder in operation theaters and ICUs i.e. Intensive Care Units. In this situation, dermatologists recommend using of synthetic i.e. nitrile or vinyl gloves and non-powered latex gloves to reduce the risk related to allergic reactions. Capacity of any glove i.e. latex product causing allergic reactions vary in an enormous way based on specific production lot and brand.

Reactions to Airborne Latex Allergy

Allergy symptoms often take place because of chain reactions often starting in one’s immune system. Immune system in this case controls the way, in which your body may defend the allergy on its own. In case you suffer from allergy, immune system identifies anything typically harmless as an allergen or invader.

With airborne latex allergy, your immune system overreacts by producing immunoglobulin, a common type of antibody to react with various contaminated proteins present in the natural rubber-extracted latex. Whenever the mentioned antibody enters cells responsible to release chemicals, it causes allergic reactions. This type of reaction often takes place in lungs, nose, ears, sinuses, skin or stomach lining.


Doctors say that latex allergy might also be of airborne type and it takes place whenever a person inhales or takes breath in the air combined with latex-based reactive particles. However, symptoms related to airborne latex allergy are similar to other allergic reactions caused due to latex particles and may range from mild to severe ones.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 1, 2021

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