Natural Rubber Latex (NRL) is the material of choice in thousands of consumer and medical products.
However, natural rubber latex, similar to other natural plant materials, contains over 200 proteins, 13 of which are suspected allergens.
These antigenic proteins can cause allergic reactions in latex sensitive people. Reactions can range from minor skin irritation and redness to sneezing to anaphylactic shock, a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.
Other symptoms include skin rash, hives, irritated or watery eyes, swollen eyes, itching and/or difficulty breathing.
Latex allergy has increased in the last two decades. It is estimated that up to three percent of the general population is at risk for an allergic reaction to natural rubber latex. Repeated exposure contributes to the irritations associated with latex allergy in some people. Cross-reactivity can occur in people with food allergies related to bananas, avocados, chestnuts and kiwi, because these fruits have proteins that are similar to those in latex.
If you suffer from one of these symptoms, make an effort to identify any latex product you use on a regular basis. Contact your physician about your concerns and consider being tested for latex allergy.