Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Latex is a milky sap developed by rubber trees, native from Brazil, the Hevea (Hevea brasiliensis). The sap is mixed with chemical products to give the latex its elastic quality. The allergy reproduces due to these chemicals, which are used to process the gum.

In those allergic to latex there is an eczema that is known as contact dermatitis. This low-grade eczema will produce itching, redness, blistering and peeling. It can become extremely uncomfortable.

If the allergic reaction is anaphylaxis, it is potentially life-threatening; therefore the patient should decrease the exposure to latex. The risk of anaphylaxis is greater in those who have previously had an allergic reaction when they come in contact with latex-containing objects.

Health workers are a risk group to develop allergy to latex, with a history of severe eczema, wheals, rhinitis or symptoms of bronchial asthma since they are usually using contraptions that have this material, especially in those who wear gloves.

Natural rubber latex can be found in thousands of items, for example: rubber gloves, condoms, rubber bands, toys, bicycles, toothbrushes.

Not only does allergy develop from contact with commonly used objects, but there are also foods that can cause symptoms in people with latex sensitivity: certain fruits and vegetables, such as chestnut, banana, tomato, kiwi, avocado, apricot, apple, pear etc.

People allergic to certain foods are those who are more likely to suffer allergic reactions to latex, because many of the rubber proteins are very similar to the proteins in food.

In recent years, the number of allergic reactions that occur after contact with latex, caused by the allergy to natural rubber proteins, known as rubber latex has increased.

What are the Symptoms of Latex Allergy?

In this type of allergies, the severity of the symptoms varies, since they depend on the sensitivity of the allergic and the amount of protein with which they have contacted.

The contact of the natural rubber latex protein with the mucous membranes is quite delicate and can be very dangerous, since it is the way in which our organism can absorb more protein from the latex.

For this reason, it is very important that during health check-ups and surgical operations the use of latex gloves is taken into account by health personnel when dealing with allergic patients.

Generally, the symptoms of this kind of allergy occur after contact of the skin with this substance, although occasionally they can also occur after inhaling the powder containing latex. Sometimes the symptoms that appear are softer, but they can get worse, since it is an allergy that is likely to end up in something more complicated like an anaphylactic shock.

How Long Does it Take to have an Allergic Reaction to Latex?

Anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction), which can be fatal, is the most serious symptom of this type of allergy. Anaphylactic reactions occur immediately after exposure to latex in very sensitive people, but anaphylaxis rarely occurs the first time you are exposed. A number of deaths have been recorded but it is something very rare to occur.
One of the reactions in these allergies is the immediate allergy, it is the adverse one mediated by the antibodies of type E (IgE) before the proteins of the natural latex. It can have consequences that usually manifest within a few minutes of exposure to the latex product.

Another type would be delayed allergy, which is characterized by inflammation of the skin in the latex contact zone due to the chemicals that are added to the latex in the manufacturing process. The symptoms that usually occur are:

-Severe itching

-Local hives (itching and hives in the area contacted by the latex)

-Generalized hives (itching and hives all over the body)

-Angioedema

-Sneezing

-Bronchial asthma

-Wheezing

-Conjunctivitis

-Dizziness

-Collapse

Conclusion

Latex is a material that the individual is in permanent contact from early childhood to adulthood. The routes of exposure to the antigen determine the type of reaction in the sensitive individual exposed to latex. It is important that the patient try to avoid contacts with latex products, they should always display some evidence that confirms the allergy.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: August 2, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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