Are Latex Allergies Life-Threatening?

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The signs of a latex allergy can be very different – depending on how strong the allergic reaction of the immune system is pronounced, how and how intense the individual contact with the trigger designed. Basically, the immune system in the area of skin, mucous membranes or surgical sites as well as infusions with latex proteins comes into contact. Accordingly, people with a latex allergy develop symptoms especially during medical procedures such as operations, dental treatments, deliveries and radiological or endoscopic examinations.

Can you develop a latex allergy?

The answer is yes and you will have to know more for that now.An allergic reaction after direct latex contact usually manifests itself within a few minutes in the form of strongly itchy wheals on the skin. The doctor then speaks of latex contact urticarial syndrome – a rash with wheals is commonly referred to as urticarial. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, latex contact urticarial syndrome is divided into four stages:

Stage I: Localized contact urticarial: wheals only at the sites of immediate skin contact or swelling and fuzziness only at the sites of immediate mucosal contact

Stage II: Generalized urticarial: wheals spread over the entire skin, possibly additionally swelling of the eyelids

Stage III: In addition to hives on the skin itching, swelling and secretion of the mucous membranes of the eyes and nose (allergic rhino conjunctivitis, allergic rhinitis), burning in the throat, tight throat, gastrointestinal discomfort, cough and / or dyspnea in the sense an allergic bronchial asthma. It can come for hours after contact with the trigger to the asthma attack

Stage IV: Allergic (anaphylactic) circulatory shock: Especially in case of severe allergic reaction to latex and / or particularly intense contact, for example during surgery or dental treatment

In addition to direct contact with latex-containing objects, the spread of minute latex particles of debris through the air can also lead to discomfort. Patients usually suffer from eyelid swelling, allergic rhino conjunctivitis and / or an asthma attack. Those with very severe allergic reactions can already develop signs of disease or even shock if they are only in a room in which previously latex-containing objects were used.

In which areas of life, for example, do we come into contact with natural latex?

Medical section

– Examination gloves, surgical gloves – Bladder catheter, urine bags, intestinal tubes

– Compression bandages, stockings

– Wristbands of sphygmomanometers

– Rubber bands on braces

– Impression trays for the preparation of dentures


– Household gloves

– Sealing rings for jars, gummed wrapping paper

– Seals on doors and windows, Electrical cable sheathing

– Carpet

Glue, Coating on the bottom of carpets – Latex mattresses, rubber pads, diapers, hot water bottles

– Baby bottle nipples, pacifier

Dolls, balloons

– Chewing gum


– Rubber bands on underwear and swimwear

– Shoe soles, rubber boots

– Rubberized fabrics on waterproof jackets

– Latex Clothing such as

Car, bicycle

– Handles on bicycle handlebars

– Seals on car doors and windows

– Car tires, floor mats

Leisure, sports

– Gymnastic mats, squash balls, sneakers

– Bathing caps, swimming goggles, diving equipment

– Air mattresses, inflatable boats

– Ski goggles


– Eraser, self-adhesive envelopes

– Rubber roller of the typewriter


– Handrails of escalators

– Condoms

Cross-allergies: reactions of the immune system to similar substances

People with an allergy to latex proteins can additionally react to chemically similar proteins of other plants (cross-allergy). Most commonly these are swelling of the eyelids, as well as discomfort to the conjunctiva and / or nasal mucosa when staying in rooms where a particular houseplant is located – the birch fig (FocusBenjamin). In addition, cross allergies occur with larger species of focus (rubber tree), cacti, milkweed plants and poinsettia.

Many latex allergies suffer from a food allergy at the same time. Typically, this refers to tropical fruits such as avocado, banana, fig, kiwi, mango, papaya or passion fruit (passion fruit). The doctor then speaks of a latex-fruit syndrome. Very rarely there is also an allergy to sweet chestnut, potato, salsify, asparagus or various salad varieties.

Symptoms of latex allergy

Typical symptoms include irritation of the body site that has come into contact with latex. These skin irritations can also adversely affect the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and stomach. How the allergic reaction finally turns out depends strongly on how the allergic person comes into contact with which allergens:

Immediate type

In the immediate type, the symptoms appear shortly after contact with the allergenic substances. This includes wheals at the contact point. At first, they are localized, but the allergic reaction can spread to the entire skin. Without countermeasures irritation of the gastric and nasal mucosa as well as the conjunctiva of the eyes may occur. An untreated progression of latex allergy can develop a runny nose, gastrointestinal discomfort, bronchial asthma, or life-threatening anaphylactic shock.


Typeit takes longer than twelve hours for the delayed type to show the first symptoms. This causes inflammation of the skin, i.e. contact dermatitis. In the acute stage redness, papules and blisters appear and in the chronic stage the symptoms become noticeable by a coarsened skin wrinkling and a strong scaling.

Diagnosis and course of latex allergy

First of all, the doctor asks the patient about his lifestyle and profession in order to assess the risk of illness. This is followed by a prick test, in which the person in contact with latex comes in contact to check whether irritation of the skin is triggered. If the latex allergy has been diagnosed, it usually lasts for life. By treating the symptoms effectively and avoiding the allergens, however, the disease can be positively influenced. Untreated and if contact with latex is not avoided, the symptoms of latex allergy can be severe.

Treatment of latex allergy

In the treatment, a distinction is made between the relief of short-term symptoms and long-term measures. The allergic reactions are usually treated with antihistamines or cortisone-containing preparations. If allergic bronchial asthma also occurs, inhalations with special substances are also administered. In severe reactions of the circulation, adrenaline may be required. One of the long-term measures is to avoid contact with the allergy trigger whenever possible. Examples of alternative materials include synthetic latex, PVC, vinyl, etc. If, despite all precautions, contact with latex does occur, emergency kits provide good support when medical attention is not available. These sets can be handed out by the doctor.

Prevent latex allergy

By avoiding the latex contact, an allergic reaction with a weak expression can be well avoided. Patients with a latex allergy should always have an allergy passport due to the proliferation of the substance and the medical staff should point out the allergy. For existing cross-allergies with certain foods, it is advisable to do without them.

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