Latex allergy

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Latex allergy
Disposable gloves 09.JPG
Classification and external resources
ICD-9 V15.07

Latex allergy is a medical term encompassing a range of allergic reactions to the proteins present in natural rubber latex.[1] Latex allergy generally develops after repeated exposure to products containing natural rubber latex. When latex-containing medical devices or supplies come in contact with mucous membranes, the membranes may absorb latex proteins. The immune system of some susceptible individuals produces antibodies that react immunologically with these antigenic proteins.[2] As many items contain or are made from natural rubber, including shoe soles, elastic bands, rubber gloves, condoms, baby-bottle nipples, and balloons, there are many possible routes of exposure that may trigger a reaction. Persons with latex allergies may also have allergic reactions to some fruits (see Latex-Fruit Syndrome).


Natural rubber latex is known to cause Type I and Type IV allergic reactions, as well as irritant contact dermatitis.

Type I[edit]

The most serious and rare form of latex allergy, Type I hypersensitivity can cause an immediate and potentially life-threatening reaction, not unlike the severe reaction some people have to bee stings. Such reactions account for a significant proportion of perioperative anaphylactic reaction, especially in children with myelomeningocele.[3][4] Type I natural rubber latex allergy is an IgE (immune) mediated reaction to proteins found in the Hevea brasiliensis tree, a type of rubber tree.

Testing for type I natural rubber latex allergy is through blood testing to determine if the patient is producing IgE antibodies to latex proteins.

Anaphylactic shock can be provoked in allergic persons by the previous use of latex in an area: latex is typically powdered to prevent sticking, latex proteins become attached to the particles of powder, and the powder becomes airborne when the latex item is used, triggering potentially life-threatening Type I reactions when the latex-contaminated powder is inhaled by susceptible persons.[5] In radiological units latex allergy may mimic contrast medium allergy [6]

Type IV (allergic contact dermatitis)[edit]

Type IV allergy, also known as allergic contact dermatitis, involves a delayed skin rash that is similar to poison ivy with blistering and oozing of the skin (see urushiol-induced contact dermatitis). It can be diagnosed through a positive skin-prick test, although a negative test does not rule out a latex allergy.[7]

Irritant contact dermatitis[edit]

Natural rubber latex can also cause irritant contact dermatitis:[8] a less severe form of reaction that does not involve the immune system. Contact dermatitis causes dry, itchy, irritated areas on the skin, most often on the hands.[9] Latex-glove induced dermatitis increases the chance of hospital-acquired infections, including blood-borne infections, being transmitted.[10]

Those at greatest risk[edit]

  • Children with spina bifida. Up to 68% will have a reaction.[11]
  • Industrial rubber workers, exposed for long periods to high amounts of latex. About 10% have an allergic reaction.[12]
  • Health care providers. Given the ubiquitous use of latex products in health care settings, management of latex allergy presents significant health organizational problems. Those healthcare workers—such as physicians, nurses, aides, dentists, dental hygienists, operating room employees, occupational therapists, laboratory technicians, and hospital housekeeping personnel—who frequently use latex gloves and other latex-containing medical supplies are at risk for developing latex allergy.[13] Between about 4% to 17% of healthcare workers have a reaction, which usually presents as Irritant Contact Dermatitis and can develop through allergic sensitivity to a status of full anaphylactic shock, with the affected workers losing their vocation.[14] In the surgical setting, the risk of a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction by a patient has been deemed by Johns Hopkins Hospital to be sufficiently high to replace all latex surgical gloves with synthetic alternatives.[15]

Estimates of latex sensitivity in the general population range from 0.8% to 8.2%.[16]

Latex-Fruit Syndrome[edit]

Some people who have latex allergy may also have an allergic response to any of a number of plant products, usually fruits. This is known as the latex-fruit syndrome.[17] Fruits (and seeds) involved in this syndrome include banana, pineapple, avocado, chestnut, kiwi fruit, mango, passionfruit, fig, strawberry and soy. Some but not all of these fruits contain a form of latex.


  • Products made from guayule natural rubber emulsions also do not contain the proteins from the Hevea rubber tree, and do not cause allergy in persons sensitized to Hevea proteins.[11][19][20]
  • Chemical treatment to reduce the amount of antigenic proteins in Hevea latex has yielded alternative materials, such as Vytex, which reduce exposure to latex allergens while otherwise retaining the properties of natural rubber.

Some patients' sensitivity is so extreme that replacement of latex products with products made from alternative materials may still result in a reaction if the products are manufactured in the same facility as the latex-containing products, due to trace quantities of natural rubber latex on the non-latex products.[21]

Latex allergens[edit]

Hevein-like protein domains[22] are a possible cause for allergen cross-reactivity between latex and banana[23] or fruits in general (latex-fruit syndrome).[24]

Natural rubber latex contains several conformational epitopes located on several enzymes like Hev b 1,[25] Hev b 2,[26] Hev b 4,[27] Hev b 5[28] and Hev b 6.02.[29][30]

FITkit is a latex allergen testing method for quantification of the major natural rubber latex (NRL) specific allergens: Hev b 1, Hev b 3, Hev b 5 and Hev b 6.02.[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Safety and Health Topics | Latex Allergy". Retrieved 2014-07-31. 
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ Rendeli C, Nucera E, Ausili E, Tabacco F, Roncallo C, Pollastrini E, Scorzoni M, Schiavino D, Caldarelli M, Pietrini D, Patriarca G.; Nucera; Ausili; Tabacco; Roncallo; Pollastrini; Scorzoni; Schiavino; Caldarelli; Pietrini; Patriarca (Jan 2006). "Latex sensitisation and allergy in children with myelomeningocele". Childs Nerv Syst 22 (1): 28–32. doi:10.1007/s00381-004-1110-4. PMID 15703967. 
  4. ^ Banta JV, Bonanni C, Prebluda J.; Bonanni; Prebluda (Jun 1993). "Latex anaphylaxis during spinal surgery in children with myelomeningocele". Dev Med Child Neurol 235 (6): 543–8. PMID 8504897. 
  5. ^ Tarlo, S. M.; Sussman, G; Contala, A; Swanson, M. C. (1994). "Control of airborne latex by use of powder-free latex gloves". The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology 93 (6): 985–9. PMID 8006320. 
  6. ^ Böhm, Ingrid (2010). "Latex allergy in patients suspected for contrast medium hypersensitivity: A neglected differential diagnosis". Acta Radiologica 51 (6): 709–710. doi:10.3109/02841851.2010.482105. PMID 20438290. 
  7. ^ "Medscape: Medscape Access". Retrieved 2014-07-31. 
  8. ^ a b "Latex Allergy". Retrieved 2009-08-08. 
  9. ^ "Latex Allergy: Latex Allergy Infographic". Retrieved 2014-11-12. 
  10. ^ "Medscape: Medscape Access". Retrieved 2014-07-31. 
  11. ^ a b "Plant Biologists And Immunochemists Develop Hypoallergenic Alternative To Latex". ScienceDaily. December 1, 2008. Retrieved 2010-02-13. 
  12. ^ "Medscape: Medscape Access". Retrieved 2014-07-31. 
  13. ^ "NIOSH Alert:Preventing Allergic Reactions to Natural Rubber Latex in the Workplace". United States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Retrieved 2008-01-20. 
  14. ^ "Latex Allergy". 2001-08-08. Retrieved 2014-07-31. 
  15. ^ WJZ 13 (CBS) (2008-01-15). "Hopkins ceases use of latex gloves during surgery". Baltimore. Retrieved 2009-07-30. 
  16. ^ Grzybowski M, Ownby DR, Rivers EP, Ander D, Nowak RM; Ownby; Rivers; Ander; Nowak (October 2002). "The prevalence of latex-specific IgE in patients presenting to an urban emergency department". Ann Emerg Med 40 (4): 411–9. doi:10.1016/S0196-0644(02)00063-X. PMID 12239498. 
  17. ^ Brehler R, Theissen U, Mohr C, Luger T; Theissen; Mohr; Luger (April 1997). ""Latex-fruit syndrome": frequency of cross-reacting IgE antibodies". Allergy 52 (4): 404–10. doi:10.1111/j.1398-9995.1997.tb01019.x. PMID 9188921. 
  18. ^ "Why do polyisoprene condoms work as latex allergy condom choices?". Retrieved 2014-07-31. 
  19. ^ [2][dead link]
  20. ^ "New Type of Latex Glove Cleared". Retrieved 2014-07-31. 
  21. ^ "Draft Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff - Recommendations for Labeling Medical Products to Inform Users that the Product or Product Container is not Made with Natural Rubber Latex". 2014-05-16. Retrieved 2014-07-31. 
  22. ^ Dìaz-Perales, A; Sánchez-Monge, R; Blanco, C; Lombardero, M; Carillo, T; Salcedo, G (2002). "What is the role of the hevein-like domain of fruit class I chitinases in their allergenic capacity?". Clinical and experimental allergy : journal of the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology 32 (3): 448–54. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2222.2002.01306.x. PMID 11940077. 
  23. ^ Mikkola JH, Alenius H, Kalkkinen N, Turjanmaa K, Palosuo T, Reunala T; Alenius; Kalkkinen; Turjanmaa; Palosuo; Reunala (December 1998). "Hevein-like protein domains as a possible cause for allergen cross-reactivity between latex and banana". J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 102 (6 Pt 1): 1005–12. doi:10.1016/S0091-6749(98)70339-2. PMID 9847442. 
  24. ^ Wagner, S; Breiteneder, H (2002). "The latex-fruit syndrome". Biochemical Society transactions 30 (Pt 6): 935–40. doi:10.1042/bst0300935. PMID 12440950. 
  25. ^ Chen, Zhiping; Cremer, Reinhold; Posch, Anton; Raulf-Heimsoth, Monika; Rihs, Hans-Peter; Baur, Xaver (1997). "On the allergenicity of Hev b 1 among health care workers and patients with spina bifida allergic to natural rubber latex". Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 100 (5): 684–93. doi:10.1016/S0091-6749(97)70174-X. PMID 9389300. 
  26. ^ Barre, Annick; Culerrier, Raphaël; Granier, Claude; Selman, Laetitia; Peumans, Willy J.; Van Damme, Els J.M.; Bienvenu, Françoise; Bienvenu, Jacques; Rougé, Pierre (2009). "Mapping of IgE-binding epitopes on the major latex allergen Hev b 2 and the cross-reacting 1,3β-glucanase fruit allergens as a molecular basis for the latex-fruit syndrome". Molecular Immunology 46 (8–9): 1595–604. doi:10.1016/j.molimm.2008.12.007. PMID 19185347. 
  27. ^ Kolarich, Daniel; Altmann, Friedrich; Sunderasan, Elumalai (2006). "Structural analysis of the glycoprotein allergen Hev b 4 from natural rubber latex by mass spectrometry". Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - General Subjects 1760 (4): 715. doi:10.1016/j.bbagen.2005.11.012. 
  28. ^ Beezhold, Donald H.; Hickey, Vicky L.; Slater, Jay E.; Sussman, Gordon L. (1999). "Human IgE-binding epitopes of the latex allergen Hev b 5". Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 103 (6): 1166–72. doi:10.1016/S0091-6749(99)70194-6. PMID 10359901. 
  29. ^ Reyes-López, CA; Hernández-Santoyo, A; Pedraza-Escalona, M; Mendoza, G; Hernández-Arana, A; Rodríguez-Romero, A (2004). "Insights into a conformational epitope of Hev b 6.02 (hevein)". Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 314 (1): 123–30. doi:10.1016/j.bbrc.2003.12.068. PMID 14715255. 
  30. ^ Pedraza-Escalona, Martha; Becerril-Luján, Baltazar; Agundis, Concepción; Domínguez-Ramírez, Lenin; Pereyra, Ali; Riaño-Umbarila, Lidia; Rodríguez-Romero, Adela (2009). "Analysis of B-cell epitopes from the allergen Hev b 6.02 revealed by using blocking antibodies". Molecular Immunology 46 (4): 668–76. doi:10.1016/j.molimm.2008.08.282. PMID 18930549. 
  31. ^ Koh D, Ng V, Leow YH, Goh CL.; Ng; Leow; Goh (2005). "A study of natural rubber latex allergens in gloves used by healthcare workers in Singapore". Br. J. Dermatol. 153 (5): 954–59. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2133.2005.06820.x. PMID 16225605. 

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