An allergy is a sensitivity to a certain substance. If you have a latex allergy, you’re sensitive to natural rubber latex. This is a growing problem among people who work in health care. This sheet tells you more about the causes and symptoms of latex allergy.
Natural rubber latex is made from a liquid taken from the rubber tree. Common products that often contain latex include:
Baby bottle nipples
Latex protein is the allergen that causes latex allergy. The more a person is exposed to latex protein, the more likely he or she will develop latex allergy.
If latex touches your skin, you may have a local reaction. For instance, you may have a rash, hives, or blisters on your skin.
If latex gets into your lungs or bloodstream, you may have a systemic reaction. This means you may have symptoms that affect your whole body. For instance, you may have itchy eyes and sneezing. You may also have coughing, trouble breathing, and other symptoms.
In either case, symptoms can occur right away. Or they can occur many hours later. Also, symptoms can range from mild to severe.
In rare cases, latex allergy can cause a reaction called anaphylaxis. This problem can be fatal. It must be treated right away. First, use your epinephrine auto-injector if you have it with you. This is medication that is often prescribed by the doctor if you have latex allergy. Also call 911 or go to the emergency room (ER). Signs of anaphylaxis include:
Severe hives and itchy skin
Swelling of the throat
Wheezing, inability to breathe
Rapid, pounding heartbeat
Feeling faint; loss of consciousness