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Latex allergy? stay away from rubber and bananas



Latex is a substance that occurs naturally in the form of milk from rubber plants such as Brazilian hevea or dandelion. In the process of industrial processing, this substance takes on a powder form and from it are formed balloons, medical or household gloves, condoms, baby bottles and nipples, car tires, etc.

However, if you are sensitive to latex, you will have to stay away from all these and other objects, as they can cause an allergic reaction.

Now latex allergy affects 1-6% of the world’s population. Although back in the late 1980s, this phenomenon was practically not known. The first allergic reactions were reported among doctors and nurses. And therefore, for some time this allergy was considered a purely professional phenomenon. Today, latex allergy has already been diagnosed in 10-17% of healthcare workers. For dentists and their assistants, this figure is even higher and amounts to 33.8%. 

In fact, anyone can develop this type of allergy. Although at risk, first of all, there are people who have been in contact with this allergen for a long time, or, conversely, receive a large contact dose in a short period of time.

For example, in addition to doctors, latex allergy quite often affects employees of beauty salons, catering establishments: cafes and restaurants (17%), as well as patients who have undergone numerous operations. In particular, this applies to children with spina bifida. 


The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology estimates that 50% of people with latex allergies also have other types of allergies. In particular, we are talking about asthma and food allergies to certain foods. According to other sources, from 30% to 70% of patients with latex allergies are sensitive to one or more types of fetuses. But in patients with existing food allergies, reactions to latex are observed in about 10% of cases. 

This cross-reaction is due to the similarity between latex proteins and certain foods.

However, different products have different degrees of likelihood of cross-reactions with latex. Banana is one of the most common causes of latex cross-reactivity. However, there are others.  

Foods with a high likelihood of developing reactions to latex are:

· avocado      

· bananas      

· Kiwi.      

Foods with a moderate potential for latex cross-reactions:

· apples      

· carrots      

· celery      

· papaya      

· melon      

· tomatoes      

· Potatoes.      

Products with a low likelihood of reactions:

· cherry      

· figs      

· grapes      

· nectarine      

· pineapple      

· strawberries      

· Plum.      

If a person with a latex allergy has a reaction to certain fetuses, the phenomenon is called latex fetal syndrome.

For this, hevein-like protein domains may be responsible, which are a possible cause of cross-reaction. In particular, we are talking about such latex proteins as Hev b 1, Hev b 2, Hev b 4, Hev b 5 and Hev b 6.02.

Allergens Hev b 1, Hev b 3 and Hev b 7, however, may be associated with latex reactions in children with spina bifida.

Allergies in physicians are mainly caused by the proteins Hev b 1, Hev b 6 and Hev b 14.

It is also believed that some latex products are more allergenic than others. In particular, products that can often cause a reaction include products that are made by immersion (gloves, condoms, balloons). These products are elastic rubber and generally have a high latex protein content.

Vulcanized rubber products, which are made by molding, are dry forms of hardened rubber products (tires, bottle caps, syringes, gaskets). They are less likely to cause allergies.

And then there are synthetic rubber latex products. They do not contain natural rubber proteins, but may contain rubber additives used in manufacturing. If you are sensitive to these additives, you may have a reaction to synthetic rubber latex.

In addition, corn starch, talc, which is often used to coat some rubber products, such as gloves, can be an additional factor causing an allergic reaction. Talc particles serve as a carrier of allergenic latex proteins. They can get into the air. As a result, people who are allergic to latex may feel a reaction if the powder is inhaled or in contact with the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, or skin.

In general, latex can be found in a number of products that we come across all the time.

Some products that can be made from latex:

· Balloons      

· Rubber or latex gloves      

· condoms      

· Erasers,      

· Physical exercise bands,      

Rubber bands      

· Dental Supplies      

· stethoscopes      

· Cuff for a blood pressure monitor      

· spandex      

· Pacifiers and nipples for baby bottles      

· points      

· bath      

· Garden hoses      


Latex allergy can manifest itself as an immediate IgE-mediated reaction (type I hypersensitivity) or delayed (type IV hypersensitivity) in the form of allergic contact dermatitis. It is also called cell-mediated contact dermatitis.

Symptoms of type I latex allergy usually manifest themselves 30-60 minutes after exposure to the allergen. This reaction is less common, but ranges from skin irritation and respiratory symptoms to life-threatening anaphylaxis.

The main symptoms of latex allergy include:

· Redness      

· urticaria      

· Itchy skin      

· sneezing      

· Itchy eyes      

· Throat irritation      

· Asthma.      

Latex allergy symptoms may be mild at first, but may become more severe over time.

Sometimes latex allergy can cause anaphylaxis. It can start as soon as a few seconds after contact with latex, and appear later – usually within an hour.  

But if the reaction has already begun, it usually progresses rapidly. Therefore, in such cases, you must immediately independently inject adrenaline, if available, or immediately call an ambulance.

The signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis are:

· Difficulty breathing      

· Urticaria or swelling      

· Nausea and vomiting      

· wheezing      

· Drop in blood pressure      

· dizziness      

· Loss of consciousness      

· lethargy      

· Rapid or weak pulse.      

However, if the reaction is mild, does not interfere with breathing, occurs only locally and has no other manifestations, a regular antihistamine pill or 1% hydrocortisone cream can help if a rash appears.

This can also help with a type IV cell-mediated reaction. This reaction is not life threatening and is usually limited to skin that has come into contact with rubber products. With this type of dermatitis, symptoms appear with a delay: 24-48 hours after exposure to an irritant.

The main symptoms of a type IV allergic contact dermatitis reaction are:

· Red rash      

· Papules – hard nodules on the skin, which can have a color,      

A blister-type rash that may ooze.      

If this reaction occurs repeatedly, the rash can develop into a chronic problem and even spread beyond the site of contact.


People who are often exposed to latex, such as nursing staff, may develop another type of reaction, irritant contact dermatitis. It is not an allergic reaction per se, because the immune system is not involved in its development. This is a simple annoyance. Contact dermatitis is most likely caused by frequent washing of the skin, sweating, and / or irritation from powdered oils.  

This rash may itch, but most commonly the affected area is dry, red and cracked. But papules and blisters on the skin are rarely observed, and the rash itself never spreads beyond the site of contact with the irritant.

If you suspect you have a sensitivity to latex, consult an allergist. Only a doctor can determine what type of reaction you are experiencing. If positively diagnosed, the best further strategy is to avoid exposure to latex.

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