What is a latex allergy?

A latex allergy is a reaction to a protein in the sap of the rubber tree. If someone who is sensitive touches or breathes the protein, he or she can have an allergic reaction.

Some of the other chemicals used in making latex gloves can cause serious allergies, as well. Also, latex gloves are dusted with powder to make them easier to put on and take off. When this powder combines with the latex protein, it can get into the air when the gloves are used and be inhaled.

Some individuals may experience discomfort in the hands or have allergic reactions when wearing or after wearing latex or plastic gloves. It has been known that products which contain natural rubber latex, such as: balloons, balls, toys that contain rubber material, rubber bands, hoses, boots and rubber parts of instruments, tires, erasers, mouse pads, helmets, condoms, etc. may cause irritation or allergic reactions in some individuals. These reactions range from dry, itchy, crusty skin with cracks or sores, to a runny nose, wheezing, difficulty breathing, swelling in the face, cramps and shock.

However, the exact cause of latex allergies is still unknown. Researchers are also unable to determine the exact level of latex protein, or the length of time an individual needs to be exposed to become allergic.

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