Allergies Data Verified

Latex Allergy - Precautions and Care in Healthcare Settings

Published on Jun 24, 2022 and last reviewed on Apr 19, 2023   -  4 min read


Latex allergy is prevalent among healthcare providers and dental surgeons. Read the article to know its pathophysiology, and prevention.

What Are the Sources of Latex?

The sap of the rubber tree (Hevea Brasiliensis) is from where the natural rubber latex substance is isolated. It can be used for various products ranging from balloons, examination gloves, condoms, etc.

Foods such as banana, avocado, kiwi, grapefruit, papaya, pineapple, tomatoes, chestnut, almonds also contain some amount of latex. It has been reported that 21.2 % to 86 % of patients who have been documented allergies to latex also had a food allergy.

What Are The Features of Latex Allergy?

The clinical features of a latex allergy would range from rash or hives to serious onset sequelae like chronic skin irritation, anaphylaxis, rhinitis, and difficulty in maintaining the airway. Due to the unavoidable fact that there is no known cure for latex allergy completely; one should hence consciously avoid the use of latex products and use the alternative substitutes for them as anaphylactic reaction or sensitivity to latex would prove fatal in these people.

The recent onset of latex and powder-free gloves can also help healthcare practitioners and dental surgeons who may have latex allergies because of the prolonged and repeated contact with surgical latex gloves. Whereas, if the latex allergies are connected to food products or fruits, it is called latex food syndrome.

Hypersensitivity Reactions - The two main kinds of reactions in latex allergy that can be observed are:

What Is the Pathophysiology of Latex Allergy?

Sensitisation mechanisms associated with latex allergy are due to the immunologically mediated reaction by the content present in these materials. However, it is important to note that the use of surgical gloves plays the main role in the prevention of infectious diseases such as HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), hepatitis B, and C as well. Sensitization depends on factors such as the route of exposure, dosage, frequency of exposure, and the person’s susceptibility. Exposure may occur as a result of direct contact with the skin or the mucosal membranes and maybe even through ingestion, which should be investigated thoroughly by the physician in an unknown case of allergy.

The absorption of latex from the surgeon’s glove are usually slow, and hence the reaction may occur about 30 minutes post-contact with the skin surface or the mucous membranes. However, the actual start of the reaction may range anywhere in or approximately from 10 minutes to as long as 4.5 hours. This interval will depend on the sensitivity as well as the amount of allergen (latex) absorbed in relation to the patient's skin or mucous membrane surface. In the contact surfaces, the absorption is faster through the peritoneum or vaginal mucosa than through the skin comparatively.

What Are the Risk Factors of Latex Allergy?

The following factors increase an individual’s risk for latex allergy:

  • Spina bifida.

  • Reconstructive urological surgery.

  • Multiple surgical procedures.

  • Intolerance to latex products (balloons, gloves preservatives, dental rubber dams).

  • Allergy to fruits.

  • History of intraoperative anaphylaxis (of unknown cause).

  • Health personnel with prolonged exposure.

  • Genetic tendency to develop a heightened immune response to allergens or atopy.

It is estimated that in around 30 % of affected cases by anaphylaxis, there is a suggestive history of previous reactions. Individuals with allergies to specific foods are also at an increased risk of developing allergic reactions to latex (latex food syndrome).

How Is Latex Allergy Diagnosed?

The diagnostic criterion for detecting a latex allergy are:

  • Serum Tryptase - Mast cell activation is prominent that is detected in this test. It rises in mediated and non-IgE mediated hypersensitivity reactions.

  • Serum-Specific IgE - The recommendation is to perform this test after four to six weeks and before six months of the allergic event. Immediate measurement after an allergy could give a false negative.

  • Skin Tests - The skin test can be done up to one year after the allergic event, but not immediately (to avoid a false negative). The recommendation is to wait again four to six weeks after the allergic reaction.

  • Prick Test - Evaluates the sensitization to the latex with high accuracy rates.

How to Prevent and Manage Latex Allergy?

The latex allergy might be prevented by:

  • Minimizing the absorption of the product or agent containing latex (considering the variety of possible routes of exposure).

  • Removing all products containing latex and changing over to latex-free gloves.

  • Placing an allergy alert to the latex in a visible place at the entry, interiors, and exit points of the surgical arena.

  • Detailed study and case history of the patient who is susceptible to a latex allergy.

What Are the Advantages of Latex Gloves?

A 100 % latex-free environment may not be advisable given that this allergy occurs in less than 1 % of the patients. To prevent the risk of cross-infection in a health setting, is to generate a safe environment for patients with prior allergy or history to latex. Rather than avoiding latex altogether in a health setting, it needs to be used with precaution, as surgical latex gloves are always beneficial in terms of wear and tear, protection and providing superior dexterity to the surgeon. In addition, the general measures should only include caution in individuals with a history of allergy to latex, that is the adequate identification of allergic patients and health personnel.


In individuals suffering from latex allergy, be it either patients or health personnel and surgeons, a detailed clinical history helps elicit an appropriate preventive strategy for these individuals. Moreover, proper labeling of products formulated with latex and the use of latex-free gloves is also beneficial. Among the general recommendations for health, establishments are important to educate the staff in the healthcare setting and establish protocols for the management of these patients and personnel.

Last reviewed at:
19 Apr 2023  -  4 min read




Comprehensive Medical Second Opinion.Submit your Case

Related Questions & Answers

My foreskin is dry and paining a lot while taking back. Why?

Query: Hi doctor, I had a little bit of itching on the foreskin. I had sex with my partner, and I used a condom. After the first ejaculation, I used the second condom. I started to have pain in the penis after the first ejaculation. But still, I went for the second one. After several strokes, when I was n...  Read Full »

Why do I feel itchy over my face, neck, chest and arms after sex?

Query: Hello doctor,I am 29 years old. My whole body gets itchy after sex. Earlier it used to be random, but now it is almost every time. My face, neck, chest, legs, even hands, and arms are involved.  Read Full »

Allergy - the Term Explained in a Scientific Way

Article Overview: Due to the widespread use of the term allergy, there are many misconceptions about allergic disorders among patients and the general population. This article aims to explain allergy in a scientific way, but in simple language and with examples. Read Article

Parmar Parin Niranjanbhai
Parmar Parin Niranjanbhai
Pediatric Allergy/Asthma Specialist

Introduction: Allergic disorders are very common and are increasing worldwide. The term allergy is also very commonly used by doctors, patients, and the general population. However, the liberal use of the word allergy has created many misconceptions and confusion about allergies. What Is Allergy? Al...  Read Article

Popular Articles Most Popular Articles

Do you have a question on Latex Allergy or ?

Ask a Doctor Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.