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Rubber gloves can hide a latex allergy

by Dominique Vanier, B.Sc.H., M.Env.Sc., on 19 September 2016, Allergies

Did you know latex is a natural substance that comes from the sap of the South American tree Hevea brasiliensis?

Also known as the rubber tree, this tree is “tapped” for its milky fluid, much like the process of tapping maple trees for maple syrup. This milky fluid is later transformed into latex.

Unfortunately, many individuals are allergic to latex…

Latex is primarily used to make rubber and is a common ingredient in many modern-day products. It is found in everyday objects including rubber gloves, condoms, elastics, balloons, clothing, and even in some baby pacifiers.

Unfortunately, many individuals are allergic to latex. A person’s risk increases the more they encounter latex. For instance, risk of developing a latex allergy is higher in individuals whose occupation involves exposure to latex, such as in healthcare workers, rubber industry workers, or those who frequently wear latex gloves.

Latex Allergy – Symptoms

During an allergic reaction to latex, the body inappropriately targets proteins within the latex as allergens, which sets off an allergic reaction. An allergy may also arise to the processing chemicals used in the manufacturing of latex.

An allergic reaction to latex can range in severity. Some may experience mild symptoms, such as red, inflamed, and itchy skin arising from contact dermatitis. These symptoms are typically delayed and may appear 48-96 hours after contact with latex.

Others may experience a classic anaphylactic reaction to latex. Symptoms occur immediately and aggressively, involving a narrowing of the airways, drop in blood pressure, swollen lips and tongue, and trouble breathing. This type of allergy is potentially life threatening and requires quick medical attention.

Fortunately, there are many easy, natural approaches you can take to ease or eliminate symptoms of a latex allergy:

  • Avoid latex altogether. Diligently check ingredients of products and become familiar with how latex is labeled. Choose safer alternatives, such as natural rubber latex from the desert plant guayule or synthetic polymers such as polyurethane. Unlike the rubber tree, guayule does not contain proteins that signal an allergic reaction.
  • Take a natural anti-inflammatory. Curcumin, a substance found in turmeric, is a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant agent. Curcumin has been reported in multiple studies to have anti-allergic properties with inhibitory effect on histamine release – the main inflammatory mediator of an allergic reaction.
  • Check your cross-reactivity with other foods. The protein in latex that signals an allergic reaction is similar in structure to proteins found in certain foods, including bananas, avocados, chestnut, and kiwis. An individual who is allergic to latex may therefore experience a food allergy to these allergenically-linked foods.
  • Find symptomatic relief. If you experience allergic symptoms after encountering latex, you can help mitigate histamine levels and your allergic by taking Allergy Relief Tabs.
  • Ease allergic symptoms topically. Natural topical applications such as aloe vera and oatmeal can help reduce itch and irritation associated with latex exposure.
  • Avoid additional irritants. For individuals with sensitive skin, avoiding other irritants such as synthetic fragrances, parabens, phthalates, petroleum by-products, and sodium laurel sulfate may avoid exacerbating the allergic reaction.
  • Reduce inflammation through diet. Stay away from foods that are known to cause inflammation, such as sugar and saturated fat. Instead, choose foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like organic salmon, tuna, almonds, or walnuts, which help reduce inflammation.


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