Allergy Facts, Symptoms, and Treatment

Latex comes from the milky sap of the rubber tree, which is grown mainly in Thailand, Indochina, Malaysia, and India.1 Each year, more than 12 million tons of natural rubber is produced, which is then used to make myriad household products, including everything from condoms and rubber bands to balloons and remote-control buttons.2,3 In addition, latex is ubiquitous in healthcare and is commonly used in gloves.4

Typical latex-allergy reactions are caused by inhalation and direct skin or mucus-membrane contact. Thus, people wearing latex gloves have direct-contact exposure; however, when gloves are removed, powdered lubricants inside the gloves can cling to latex proteins and make them airborne during donning and removal.1

The following populations are at risk of developing an allergy due to their regular use of latex products: healthcare workers, dental-practice staff, residential-care providers, cleaners/housekeepers, hairdressers, caterers, mechanics, entertainers who handle balloons, and electrical-industry personnel. However, others are also at an increased risk including those with certain food allergies and people undergoing multiple surgical procedures.3 In fact, up to 72 percent of children with spina bifida, who are often exposed to latex products through early and frequent healthcare, have a latex sensitization.1,5 And for those sensitized to latex, asthma is a major risk factor for more severe allergic reactions.3 Overall, prevalence is high among healthcare workers (9.7 percent), susceptible patients (7.2 percent), and the general population (4.3 precent).2

Where is latex found?

In addition to gloves, many items contain latex, such as:4,8,9 stethoscopes, catheters, IV tubing, tourniquets, electrode pads, syringes, respirators, dental dams, drainage tubes, blood-pressure cuffs, syringes, endotracheal tubes, surgical masks, goggles, car tires, bicycle handgrips, carpeting, racquet handles, shoe soles, expandable fabrics (e.g., waistbands), dishwashing gloves, hot water bottles, balloons, condoms, diaphragms, pacifiers, baby-bottle nipples, raincoats, rain boots, sanitary napkins, and some types of toys, bandages, makeup, face paint, and costume masks.

According to reports, latex allergies also can be caused by food contaminated by workers wearing latex gloves, and medicines and vaccines can be contaminated by latex-containing vials and medical devices.2 Some people with severe latex allergy have even reported reactions in the vicinity of balloon displays.3 However, synthetic latex, which is found in items such as latex paint, is unlikely to cause a reaction.5

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Are there other allergens I could be sensitized to?*

Some people with a latex allergy may also experience oral symptoms (e.g., itching and swelling) and anaphylaxis when eating a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts.1,7 This association is called latex-fruit syndrome, which is a type of cross-reactivity that occurs when your body's immune system identifies the proteins, or components, in different substances as being structurally similar or biologically related, thus triggering a response. While many fruits are involved in latex-fruit syndrome, the most common culprits are avocado, banana, chestnut, and kiwi.1

Knowing the proteins, or components, within each allergen that are triggering your symptoms can help guide your management plan. With that in mind, and based on your symptom history, your healthcare provider may suggest something called a specific IgE component test, which can help reveal other pollens and foods you may react to. Results from this test can also help your healthcare provider decide if allergen immunotherapy may reduce your symptoms.1

Already have your specific IgE component test results?

Your component test results will include the name of the components (a series of letters and numbers). Your healthcare provider will likely review the results with you, but here you'll find an at-a-glance breakdown you can use as a reference. Simply match the component names to the list below to see what they mean in terms of symptom management.1

rHev b 5, rHev b 6.02

  • Indicates symptoms are caused by latex.
  • Associated with symptoms such as urticaria (aka hives), rhinitis (sometimes called hay fever), asthma, and severe reactions, even anaphylaxis, in occupations exposed to latex (e.g., healthcare workers, hairdressers, etc.).
  • May cause symptoms during intake of plant foods, e.g., avocado, banana, chestnut, and kiwi, due to cross-reactivity (aka latex-food syndrome).

rHev b 1, rHev b 3

  • Indicates symptoms are caused by latex.
  • Associated with symptoms such as urticaria (aka hives), asthma, and severe reactions, even anaphylaxis, in patients exposed to latex going through multiple surgeries, e.g., patients with spina bifida.

rHev b 8 (profilin)

  • Positive sIgE for latex in combination with rHev b 8 being the only positive component test indicate that latex allergy is unlikely and avoidance of latex is not necessary.
  • Associated with mild, localized symptoms (e.g., oral symptoms such as itching and swelling).
  • Symptoms are likely caused by sensitization to a primary pollen source such as grass pollen, birch, ragweed, mugwort, raw plant foods (e.g., tomato, melon, citrus fruits, banana, pineapple, persimmon, zucchini, tomato), and more.

rHev b 11

  • Indicates that symptoms may be caused by something other than latex and avoidance of latex products is not necessary. Associated with mild, localized symptoms (e.g., oral symptoms such as itching and swelling).
  • Symptoms may occur with exposure to certain plant foods (e.g., avocado, banana, chestnut, and kiwi). This cross-reactive allergy is called latex-food syndrome.


  • Positive specific IgE for latex in combination with MUXF3 CCD (Cross-Reactive Carbohydrate Determinant) being the only positive component test indicates that the cause of symptoms may be something other than latex.

Do I need to avoid all forms of latex?

The most important latex exposure to avoid is powder from powdered latex gloves. Solid objects containing latex, such as rubber bands, blood pressure tubing, bicycle tires, and the like, are not a hazard for asthma or hay fever symptoms because they do not emit latex particles.11

*These products may not be approved for clinical use in your country. Please work with your healthcare provider to understand availability.

How do I manage my allergy?

If you are allergic to latex, your healthcare provider may recommend a plan that includes the following.3, 8-12

  • Avoid products that contain latex and environments where latex proteins may be airborne, such as hospital rooms. 
  • Check product labels for latex but remember that "hypoallergenic" doesn't necessarily mean the item is free of latex.
  • Tell providers, caregivers, teachers, and friends that you and/or your children are allergic to latex.
  • Use nonlatex gloves for activities that are not likely to involve contact with infectious materials (e.g., routine housekeeping, maintenance, food preparation).
  • Clean work areas contaminated with latex dust frequently and change ventilation filters and vacuum bags used in these environments.
  • Communicate your allergic condition to medical staff prior to checkups, procedures, and surgeries.
  • Ask restaurants to ensure that the people preparing your food wear nonlatex gloves.
  • Wear a medical-alert bracelet or necklace identifying your allergy and carry injectable epinephrine in case of an anaphylactic reaction.

Your healthcare provider may direct you to take one of the following medications to improve your allergy symptoms:

  • Epinephrine auto-injector when there are signs of an acute severe event, aka anaphylaxis (see below). Ensure your family members know how to administer it in case of an emergency.
  • Antihistamines as a supplement may be useful in relieving mild symptoms (e.g., itch); however, they do not halt the progression of an allergic reaction.
  • Bronchodilator (albuterol) as a supplemental therapy for respiratory symptoms, especially in those with a history of bronchospasm or asthma.
  • Emollients and topical steroid creams as a supplemental therapy to reduce symptoms.

If you're with someone who's having an allergic reaction and shows signs of shock, act fast. Look for pale, cool, and clammy skin; a weak, rapid pulse; trouble breathing; confusion; and loss of consciousness. Do the following immediately:

  • Call local emergency services.
  • Ensure the affected individual is lying down with legs elevated.
  • Administer epinephrine immediately for any obvious signs of anaphylaxis.
  • Check the affected individual's pulse and breathing and administer CPR or other first-aid measures if necessary.

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Common Symptoms

Reaction severity can depend on your level of sensitivity and the amount of exposure; plus, it can worsen with each additional exposure.5 Latex symptoms can include the following:1,6,7

Delayed-Type Contact Dermatitis
Usually triggered by added chemicals in the rubber, these reactions typically appear 12 to 36 hours after exposure and can include:

  • Red, scaly, and/or itchy skin

Immediate Allergic Reactions
After someone has been exposed to latex and has become sensitized to it, he or she may elicit any or all of the following symptoms upon re-exposure:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing, wheezing
  • Itchy throat
  • Itchy, watery eyes

Anaphylaxis, a Potentially Life-Threatening Event
In the most serious cases, symptoms occur within minutes and may cause anaphylaxis. Symptoms may include any or all of the following:

  • Red rash (typically itchy and possibly with welts/hives)
  • Swollen throat or areas of the body
  • Wheezing/trouble breathing/passing out
  • Chest tightness
  • Hoarse voice/trouble swallowing
  • Vomiting/diarrhea/stomach cramping
  • Pale or red color to the face and body

Latex-Fruit Syndrome
Symptoms may also include the following, which are associated with latex-fruit syndrome:

  • Itchy, swollen mouth
  • Anaphylaxis

How do I know if I'm allergic?*

Together with your symptom history, skin-prick testing or specific IgE blood testing can help determine if you are sensitized to a particular allergen. If you are diagnosed with an allergy, your healthcare provider will work with you to create a management plan.

*These products may not be approved for clinical use in your country. Please work with your healthcare provider to understand availability.

Is there a risk for a severe event?

Because allergic reactions are unpredictable and symptoms range from local reactions to severe, such as anaphylaxis, it is recommended that an epinephrine prescription be considered for any patient with an IgE-mediated allergy.11

  1. EAACI, et al. Molecular allergology user's guide. Zurich, Switzerland: European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology; 2016. 277-284 p. Available from:
  2. Wu M, McIntosh J, Liu J. Current prevalence rate of latex allergy: Why it remains a problem? J Occup Health. 2016 May 25;58(2):138-44. doi: 10.1539/joh.15-0275-RA. Epub 2016 Mar 24. PMID: 27010091; PMCID: PMC5356959. Available from:
  3. The Anaphylaxis Campaign [Internet]. Farnborough, UK: The Anaphylaxis Campaign; 2016 August. Available from:
  4. Nguyen K, Kohli A. Latex Allergy. [Updated 2020 Nov 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from:
  5. Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Rochester, MN: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2021. Available from:
  6. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology [Internet]. Milwaukee, WI: American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology; 2021. Available from:
  7. Cleveland Clinic Center for Continuing Education [Internet]. Lyndhurst, OH: Cleveland Clinic Center for Continuing Education; 2010 Aug. Available from:
  8. Cleveland Clinic [Internet]. Cleveland OH: Cleveland Clinic; 2021. Available from:
  9. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH): NIOSH alert: Preventing allergic reactions to natural rubber latex in the workplace. 1997 June. Available from:
  10. National Jewish Health [Internet]. Denver, CO: National Jewish Health. 2012 Jan 1. Available from:
  11. Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Rochester, MN: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2019 Sep 14. Available from:
  12. Allergy & Asthma NETWORK [Internet]. Available from: