Latex allergy—an immunologic reaction to natural rubber latex found in most latex gloves and many other medical products—poses a serious health risk for some patients and health care workers. In rare cases, latex allergies can be fatal. Approximately 1,000 cases of allergic or anaphylactic reactions to latex-containing medical products have been reported to the FDA since 1988.

  • Patients with a history of early and/or recurrent surgical or medical procedures, such as children with spina bifida.
  • Health care personnel and others who wear latex gloves.
  • Individuals with occupational exposure, such as workers involved in the manufacture of latex gloves or catheters.
Other risks factors are less defined but appear to include:

  • A history of hay fever or other allergic problems.
  • A history of food allergies to tropical fruits, hazelnuts, chestnuts or stone fruits, particularly if progressive in scope or severity.
  • Hand dermatitis that is severe or has changed in severity in an individual who wears latex gloves.

  • Prior allergic reactions (e.g., rash, itching, hives, rhinitis, swelling, eye irritation or asthmatic symptoms) after contact with balloons or rubber gloves, or after dental or pelvic examinations.
  • Prior, unexplained allergic or anaphylactic reaction during a medical procedure.

  • All products and medical devices in contact with individuals at risk should be reviewed for possible latex content. A label of “hypoallergenic” does not mean that a product is latex-free.
  • Health care workers with known latex allergy must stop using latex gloves and use synthetic latex or non-latex substitutes. Their co-workers must not use powdered latex gloves. Care should be exercised in the choice of substitutes, since all synthetic or non-latex products are not equally impermeable to blood-borne pathogens.
  • In general, only low allergen, preferably non-powdered latex gloves should be used. The powders that are used in some latex gloves can absorb latex proteins and carry them into the air in measurable quantities.

American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
85 West Algonquin Road, Suite 550
Arlington Heights, IL 60005
Phone: (847) 427-1200
Fax: (847) 427-1294
Reproduced here with permission.

Table of Contents

Latex Allergy Links — Main Menu

Latex Allergy Links Message Board

Toys & Baby Products — Manufacturers’ Phone Numbers

Latex Gloves in Food Operations PDF
Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services Sep 07 2001

Ever more complex;
Lawsuits and increasing regulation mount as argument over NR latex policies rages

Miles Moore Rubber & Plastics News Jul 30 2001

Living With Latex: Where to be alert for latex
Medical University of South Carolina Children’s Hospital

Handle with care
Ben Van Houten Restaurant Business Aug 01 2000

Allergenic Cross-Reactivity of Latex and Foods
Greer Labs Technical Bulletin #10 Jan 05 2000

Latex Allergy: Another Real Y2K Issue
Lisa M. Jennings, RN CRRN Rehabilitation Nursing Jul/Aug 1999

Potential for Allergy to Natural Rubber Latex Gloves and other Natural Rubber Products
OSHA Technical Information Bulletin Apr 12 1999

Looking Out for Latex
Sandra A. Holmes Science and Children Feb 1999

The Vow of Silence
Marianne McAndrew Journal of Nursing Administration Feb 1999

The legal implications of latex allergy
Peter Kohn RN Jan 1999

Latex Allergy: Everyone’s Concern
Lawrence D. Duffield, DDS Journal of the Michigan Dental Association Jun 1998

Allergen Content of Latex Gloves.
A Market Surveillance Study of Medical Gloves Used in Finland in 1997

Palosuo, Turjanmaa, & Reinikka-Railo

User Facility Reporting Bulletin
selected articles FDA Fall 1997

Latex Allergy Alert
Christine Ozment Exceptional Parent Oct 1997

Latex gloves hand health workers a growing worry
Margaret Veach American Medical News Oct 13 1997

Living with Latex
Lisa Legge Nursing Minnesota Aug 1997

Research Review:
Association between latex sensitization and repeated latex exposure in children

Victoria M. Steelman RN, PhD(c), CNOR AORN Journal Jul 1997

Latex allergy: How safe are your gloves?
Kenneth K. Meyer, MD, FACS and Donald H. Beezhold, PhD
American College of Surgeons Bulletin Jul 1997

User Facility Reporting Bulletin
FDA Spring 1997

Latex allergy among staff poses major headache for hospitals
Meredith Goad Press Herald Portland, ME May 06 1997

Oregon picks up latex glove controversy
Patrick O’Neill The Oregonian Portland, OR Apr 21 1997

Facilities react to growing number of allergies to latex
Linda L. Mullen South Bend Tribune South Bend, IN Apr 13 1997

Growing number of HCW’s developing dangerous reactions to latex
Liz Kowalczyk The Patriot Ledger Quincy, MA Apr 01 1997

Shriners Hospital Stops Using Latex
Pat Cahill Springfield Union Springfield, MA Mar 07 1997

Latex Allergy and Contraception
The Contraception Report Patient Update Mar 1997

Is Latex Paint Hazardous To Latex Allergy Sufferers?
Don Groce Latex Allergy News Oct 1996

Cotton, Nylon, Lycra Spandex and Allergies
Don Groce Latex Allergy News Sep 1996

Paving, Asphalt, Tires & Latex Allergies
Don Groce Latex Allergy News Aug 1996

Special Bulletin: Latex Allergy
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

Q & A: Latex Allergies
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

Preguntas y Respuestas: Alergias al Látex
Asociación Americana de Alergia, Asma e Inmunología

Latex Allergy Survival Kit
Nancy Mitchell 1996

Downloadable/Printable Latex Allergy Signs
For personal, non-commercial use only

Pre-1996 FDA documents
Miscellaneous legislative and other documents

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