Latex comes from the sap of rubber trees. A
latex allergy is an immune system response to
certain proteins found in natural rubber latex.
This response to latex (rubber) products may
include the symptoms listed below.
ξ Runny nose
ξ Itchy, watery eyes
ξ Itchy throat
These responses can occur when items that
contain latex touch the skin, mucous
membranes (mouth, genitals, bladder, or
rectum), open areas on the skin, or the
bloodstream (during surgery). For some
people, breathing the powder that is inside
latex gloves or balloons can cause a
Symptoms often result immediately after
contact. Reactions to latex can range from
mild to severe. With severe reactions,
symptoms occur within minutes and involve
multiple body systems. This life threatening
condition is called anaphylaxis.
Latex is found in many products used in the
hospital, the community, and the home.
Possible sources of latex include:
Hospital and Clinic
Home and Community
ξ IV tubing ξ Baby bottle nipples
ξ Surgical and exam gloves ξ Elastic on diapers, clothes
ξ Catheters ξ Pacifiers
ξ Tourniquets ξ Balloons
ξ Adhesive tapes ξ Toys
ξ Elastic bandages ξ Erasers
ξ Art Supplies
ξ Dental Dams
There are non-latex products for all of these items. They are often made of plastic, vinyl, or silicone.
People at Risk
Anyone can acquire a latex allergy. Most
often, it occurs after frequent exposure to
latex. With each exposure, this reaction can
become more severe. Certain groups of
people are at greater risk. They are often
people who have frequent exposure to latex.
Health care professionals and those who
work in the latex industry are at higher risk.
Others at higher risk are those who have:
ξ Spina bifida
ξ Multiple surgeries
ξ History of allergic reaction to
multiple intravenous medicines
ξ Certain food allergies ( bananas,
avocados, chestnuts, kiwi and
There are medicines to help treat the
symptoms of latex allergy. The best
treatment is to avoid contact with latex.
ξ Alert your health care team if you
have had a reaction to latex or
unexplained allergic reaction during
ξ Avoid all latex products. Use other
kinds of gloves, tape, pacifiers, etc.
Substitutes for latex gloves: nitrile
or vinyl gloves
ξ Ask your doctors about pre-
medication before surgery.
ξ For serious reactions, talk to your
doctor about getting an epinephrine
ξ Wear a Medic Alert bracelet or
necklace, if desired.
People with spina bifida or urologic
malformations should be on latex alert.
They should avoid latex products to lessen
the chance of this allergy in the future.
Children with a Latex Allergy
Communication is the key. You will need to
alert anyone involved in your child’s care.
ξ All health care providers
ξ Day care workers
ξ Baby sitters
Teach your child to recognize and avoid
latex products. Be sure that your child's
medical, dental, and school records have a
latex allergy alert.
UWHC Pediatric Allergy Clinic
UWHC Adult Allergy Clinic
UWHC Spina Bifida Clinic
Spina Bifida Association of America
4590 MacArthur Boulevard NW, Suite 250
Washington, DC 2007-4226
The above information was adapted with
permission from the Spina Bifida
Association of America.
Charous, L. et.al. Natural rubber latex allergy after 12 years: Recommendations and
perspectives. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Volume 109, Number 1. January,
American Latex Allergy Association: http://www.latexallergyresources.org/
Medline Plus: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/latexallergy.html
Latex Allergy Links: http://latexallergylinks.tripod.com/
AAAAI-American Academy of Asthma and Immunology: http://www.aaal.org
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you have
any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This is not
medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each person’s health
needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using this information. If
you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 12/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority.
All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing HF#4648.