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Latex allergies - for hospital patients

Latex products - hospital; Latex allergy - hospital; Latex sensitivity - hospital; Contact dermatitis - latex allergy; Allergy - latex; Allergic reaction - latex

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Description

If you have a latex allergy, your skin or mucous membranes (eyes, mouth, nose, or other moist areas) react when latex touches them. A severe latex allergy can affect breathing and cause other serious problems.

Latex is made from the sap of rubber trees. It is very strong and stretchy. For this reason, it is used in a lot of medical equipment.

Hospital Items That Contain Latex

Common hospital items that may contain latex include:

Other hospital items may also contain latex.

Are you at Risk for a Latex Allergy?

Over time, frequent contact with latex increases the risk of a latex allergy. People in this group include:

Others who may become allergic to latex are people who are allergic to foods that have the same proteins that are in latex. These foods include bananas, avocado, and chestnuts.

Foods that are less strongly linked with latex allergy include:

Diagnosis

Latex allergy is diagnosed by how you have reacted to latex in the past. If you developed a rash or other symptoms after contact with latex, you are allergic to latex. Allergy skin testing can help diagnose a latex allergy.

A blood test can also be done. If you have latex antibodies in your blood, you are allergic to latex. Antibodies are substances your body makes in response to latex allergens.

Signs and Symptoms of Latex Allergies

You can have a reaction to latex if your skin, mucous membranes (eyes, mouth, or other moist areas), or bloodstream (during surgery) come into contact with latex. Breathing in the powder on latex gloves can also cause reactions.

Symptoms of latex allergy include:

Signs of a severe allergic reaction often involve more than one body part. Some of the symptoms are:

A severe allergic reaction is an emergency. You must be treated right away.

How to Avoid Exposure to Latex in the Hospital

If you have a latex allergy, avoid items that contain latex. Ask for equipment that is made with vinyl or silicone instead of latex. Other ways to avoid latex while you are in the hospital include asking for:

References

Dinulos JGH. Contact dermatitis and patch testing. In: Habif TP, ed. Habif's Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 4.

Lemiere C, Vandenplas O. Occupational allergy and asthma. In: Burks AW, Holgate ST, O'Hehir RE, et al, eds. Middleton's Allergy: Principles and Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 56.

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Review Date: 1/23/2022  

Reviewed By: Stuart I. Henochowicz, MD, FACP, Clinical Professor of Medicine, Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Rheumatology, Georgetown University Medical School, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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