Latex Allergy

Having a latex allergy means your body reacts when anything containing latex comes in contact with it. Contact can come by touching or breathing in particles.

You need to be aware of the signs of latex allergy. If you are allergic, you can prevent most problems by protecting yourself from contact.

Repeated contact with latex can increase the chance of getting a latex allergy and can worsen the reaction.

Many items contain latex
There are many places, including medical settings, where you can come into contact with hundreds of products made with latex. Only products used as medical supplies are required by law to be labeled as “latex-free” or “containing latex”. The following is only a partial list.

Common items made with latex:

Art supplies




Baby bottle nipples


Elastic in clothing

Elastic in diapers


Hot Water Bottles

“Koosh” balls



Rubber Bands

Rubber Gloves

Rubber Toys

Rubber on shoes

More detailed lists and latex allergy information may be found at various website addresses, including the following:

Protect yourself from exposure to latex

Remember to report the need for latex precaution in each and every medical visit and in community places. These places include hospitals, clinics, doctor and dentist’s offices, pharmacies, nursing homes, day care, schools, and work settings. You have the right to question the latex content of any product used in each setting.

Wear some form of medical identification if you are allergic to latex and follow instructions given to you by your nurse or doctor at all times. This may include taking medication.

Signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction

A response to latex may occur right away or not happen for hours after contact with an object. Sometimes it is hard to know which object caused it. The following may be symptoms of a latex allergy. It is very important to respond to these symptoms.

Seek medical help immediately if the person has difficulty breathing, complains of chest pains, or seems in general distress.

Skin: Rash, swelling, hives, itching, redness, and irritations (This reaction may be small or cover large areas of the body.)

Eyes: Itching, tearing, watering, redness

Nose/throat: Runny nose, tightness and/or swelling of the throat, sneezing, itching

Lungs: Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, wheezing

Heart: Chest pain, palpitations, lightheaded, fast heart beat, drop in blood pressure

Intestine: Abdominal cramping, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting

Food and Latex Allergy

There is a strong cross-reaction between some food allergies and latex allergy. Food sensitivity or allergy may exist before the onset of latex allergy. It may develop at the same time or after the latex allergy. Existing or potential food allergies should be considered in any person with an allergic reaction to latex.

Certain foods are more likely than others to cause this reaction. These are called cross-reactive foods. Persons allergic or sensitive to latex may react to all, some, or none of the cross-reactive foods.Ā  Foods in the High Association list below have a greater chance of cross-reactions than those in the Moderate or Low groups.
Existing or potential food allergies should be considered in any person with an allergic reaction to latex. Just as with latex, people who are sensitive to certain foods may have a greater risk of developing an allergy the more they come in contact with those foods. Skin tests can sometimes help to identify food allergies. Report all food allergies at every medical visit.

People with latex allergy/sensitivity often have cross-reactions to certain foods. The immune system may react to these foods as if they contained latex because of the similarity in their protein structure to the protein structure of natural rubber latex.

These ‘cross-reactive’ foods and their degree of association include:

High Association





Moderate Association








Low or Undetermined

Pear – Peach

Cherry – Pineapple

Strawberry – Grape

Hazelnut – Walnut

Fig – Peanut

Rye – Wheat

Apricot – Nectarine

Fruit – Plum

Passion Soybean – Milk


Permission to use and adapt the material for this packet given to Cathy Tallen, BMH by Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 11/01.