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Latex allergy

People may react to specific chemicals around us. For most people this is a condition that develops only after coming into contact with the particular substance repeatedly. Unfortunately the reaction may get progressively more severe.

We believe that your child is (or is at risk of becoming) allergic to latex.

What if my child comes into contact with latex?

The symptoms generally appear within 30 minutes. These could be:

  • itching and swelling at site of contact
  • itchy or runny nose with sneezing
  • itchy watery eyes
  • itch and swelling of mouth, tongue, throat
  • wheezing

And rarely anaphylaxis, which is breathing difficulty or collapse.

This allergy can cause serious illness. In the rare event of developing symptoms, these should not be ignored.

What should we do?

To help with avoiding developing an allergy to latex, avoid all unnecessary contact with latex. This may make your child more likely to become sensitive to latex.

Seek medical advice if latex exposure causes:

  • wheezing
  • tongue or throat swelling
  • your child to feel unwell such as feeling faint or dizzy

What are the main dangers?

Latex is more dangerous when it contacts a mucosal surface (such as mouth, nose or genitalia) than skin. This may occur either by:

  • direct contact such as:
    • blowing up balloons
    • contact with the gloves of a dentist, surgeon or gynaecologist
    • condom and diaphragm contraceptives
  • breathing in latex from the air such as:
    • with powdered gloves
    • from balloons

How can I make my home safer?

In general, stretchy rubber products such as gloves or rubber bands are much more likely to be a problem than hard ones such as tyres, which contain little protein.

However, because latex can be in many unlikely places such as self-sealing envelopes and waterproof mascara. It is important to get a list of products containing latex.

Some people with latex allergy also react to certain fruit and vegetables, such as:

  • banana
  • kiwi
  • avocado
  • pear
  • chestnuts
  • tropical fruits.

This is because these foods and latex contain similar proteins. Avoid any food substances that seem to cause trouble.

Prevent contact with rubber items such as:

  • rubber washing-up gloves
  • gardening gloves
  • weeping fig house plants
  • party balloons
  • some toys and teething rings and so on.

Consider carrying with you latex-free gloves such as nitrile or vinyl.

You could have your child wear an alert bracelet or necklace stating that they are allergic to natural rubber.

If your doctor recommends it, you may carry a rescue treatment in case of a severe allergic reaction.

Find a list of products which contain latex which are readily available from support groups and websites.

Who should I inform?

Please inform the following of your child’s allergy. Make sure they understand its significance and that they know how to manage your child’s allergy safely.

  • hospital doctor
  • family doctor
  • dentist
  • nurse
  • radiographer
  • chiropodist
  • physiotherapist
  • school

Especially if your child is undergoing an:

  • operation
  • internal examination
  • X-ray
  • catheterisation

Insist that your child is not examined by anyone who wears latex gloves.

Support groups

The Anaphylaxis Campaign
Telephone: 0125 2542 029
PO Box 275
Hampshire GU14 6SX

Allergy UK

The MedicAlert Foundation
Telephone: 0190 895 1045
327-329 Witan Court
Upper Fourth Street
Milton Keynes

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: ANA3

Resource Type: Article

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