This document is for information only. We are not experts at Allergies, nor are we doctors (who can help with your itch) nor lawyers which may be the cause of your itch. If there are questions about latex allergies especially related to your own potential risk factors please seek qualified medical advice (and by qualified we do not mean this document, some website nor some dude in a chat room or message board).
Latex Allergy Definitions
Type I (immediate-type) hypersensitivity Natural Rubber Latex Allergy (NRL) is an IgE-mediated, immediate type hypersensitivity reaction to one or more proteins in natural rubber latex (Hevea brasiliensis). Histamine is release causing symptoms. This reaction is systemic.
Type IV (delayed-type) hypersensitivity is a T cell-mediated, delayed response, and typically occurs 48 to 96 hours after exposure. This is frequently a reaction to the processing chemicals used in manufacturing natural rubber latex (NRL). Not the latex itself. This reaction is generally localized to the area of contact. This reaction is also referred to as allergic contact dermatitis, T-cell-mediated allergy, or chemical allergy.
Irritant Contact Dermatitis is a non-allergic reaction. Symptoms typically are dry, irritated, and/or fissured lesions –This is the most common reaction.
Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and can include one or more of the following:
- Hives or welts
- Swelling of affected area
- Runny nose
- Reddened, itchy or teary eyes
- Sore throat, hoarse voice
- Abdominal cramps
- Chest tightness, wheezing, or shortness of breath (asthma)
If exposure to latex continues, allergy symptoms may include a severe and life threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. If you are wearing latex for the first time and start to have any of the above symptoms, you need to remove the garment, shower or bath and seek medical attention promptly.
The current statistics for people sensitized to natural rubber latex are broken down by risk groups and are as follows: 8-17% of health care workers Up to 68% of children with spina bifida (related to frequent surgeries – anyone who has multiple surgeries is at risk) Less than 1% of the general population in the U.S. (about 3 million people)Source
Am I at risk for a latex allergy?
There are some associated food allergies and other common material allergies, if you are allergic too or have had a previous reaction to one of the following you may also be at a higher risk for a latex allergy.
High associative risk: Banana, Avocado, Chestnut, Kiwi
Moderate associative risk: Apple, Carrot, Celery, Papaya, Potato, Tomato, Melons
Literature Review on Latex-Food Cross-Reactivity 1991-2006
Allergic Cross Reactivity of Latex and Foods
I’ve heard Chinese Made latex is bad, harsh, smelly, going to turn my skin Technicolor, cause fire and brimstone to fall out of the sky or worse!
This is somewhat of a FUD game played on the internet for the well-meaning amusement of some folks. We can understand their desire to assert these things, and some of the stories we’ve read are likely true or grounded in truth. Though we think we can straighten a few myths out.
All Latex products on the planet come from only a few places. Regardless of the path they took to your door, the latex itself originated from Asia. Asia is the main source of natural rubber, accounting for about 94% of output in 2005. The three largest producing countries, Thailand, Indonesia (2.4m tons) and Malaysia, together account for around 72% of all natural rubber production. Natural rubber is not cultivated widely in its native continent of South America due to the existence of South American leaf blight, and other natural predators of the rubber tree. Though South America is where Pará rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) is indigenous too.
These countries do not ship the trees out, they make the sheets that our industry uses. To be fair, there are a few boutique locations of latex sheeting, but it is unlikely the production is the same type and style needed for Clothing or Garment applications.
American Latex Allergy Association