Latex allergy symptoms are an increasing number of health problems in recent years. Latex exposure can be by direct skin/mucosal surface contact or by inhalation. Complaints such as itching and redness on the skin are more common after skin contact with products containing latex. During contact with the respiratory tract, runny nose, sneezing, itching or shortness of breath, may cause wheezing. Apart from these, the most serious allergic reactions such as shortness of breath, dizziness, confusion and then allergic shock (anaphylactic shock) can be seen.

What Are the Symptoms of Latex Allergy?

Latex allergy symptoms are more common in healthcare workers or people who come into contact with latex products. The most common reaction; It is an irritant dermatitis that develops on the hands due to prolonged contact.

Irritant contact dermatitis, which is the most common clinical reaction with the use of gloves, is a skin response that develops due to dry, itchy, non-allergic irritation at the point of contact of the glove. This reaction may develop as a result of sweating when other irritants such as soap remain under the surface of the glove due to non-allergic means such as frequent hand washing, use of detergents, insufficient drying of the hands, or may develop due to irritation caused by corn starch gloves. Since irritant dermatitis develops in non-allergic ways, no allergy is detected in allergy tests.

The most common allergic reaction due to skin exposure to latex is contact dermatitis, which occurs as a type IV (delayed) hypersensitivity reaction to latex and additives. Allergic contact dermatitis most commonly occurs on skin areas that come into contact with gloves, shoes, sports equipment, and medical devices. We may encounter products containing latex differently at different times in our lives. For example, starting from infancy with a pacifier or bottle, we can encounter latex in many different ways, including balloons and chewing gum. Therefore, if there is a dermatitis in the form of itchy and watery blisters on the skin, allergic contact dermatitis due to latex should be considered. It is caused by exposure to chemicals added to latex gloves or other products during the manufacturing process. These chemicals can cause erythema, pruritus and vesicles. The rash usually begins 24-48 hours after contact, but may appear as early as eight hours or as late as five days.

Latex-Induced Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Allergens that are responsible for latex-induced allergic contact dermatitis are all kinds of chemicals such as thiuram, carbamate, mercaptobenzothiazole and phenyldiamine added as an accelerator or antioxidant during the production phase.

Natural rubber latex should not be confused with synthetic rubber latex made from chemicals. Many latex-containing products, including house paints, are created from synthetic latex. They are not created with natural latex and trigger allergic reactions in people allergic to products produced with natural rubber latex.

Type I (early type) allergic reactions to many allergens found in latex and involving IgE antibody;

It can start with itching in the body, urticaria, runny nose, sneezing, itching, shortness of breath and end with dizziness and loss of consciousness. The extent of exposure required for sensitization and symptoms to latex proteins is unknown. Even low levels of exposure can trigger symptoms in some susceptible individuals.

The most common reaction in latex allergy is contact urticaria, especially where it comes into contact. Symptoms usually begin within minutes of exposure to latex, but can occur hours later. It is seen locally as redness, swelling or itching in the areas where the glove contacts. The presence of contact urticaria in people with latex sensitivity can sometimes be a warning for patients. Contact urticaria, which develops due to latex, may appear after contact with latex-containing products and may go away on its own, and may be an important clue that indicates the patient’s sensitivity to latex.

Type I (early type) reactions due to latex;

Except for skin lesions; It can manifest itself with symptoms such as runny nose, rhinitis, conjunctivitis, asthma. Although latex allergy is more common in healthcare workers, it also occurs in other jobs where latex gloves are used, such as in a pastry shop or bakery. Recognition of occupational latex allergy and asthma is important. Allergic reactions due to latex include clinical pictures such as nose and eye cold (rhinoconjunctivitis), asthma and fatal allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). As with other types of occupational asthma, early intervention and leaving the workplace environment can stop the development of irreversible hyperreactive airway disease. As a classic syndrome, latex occupational asthma is wheezing and shortness of breath that occurs or worsens at work. However, sometimes the relationship of this deterioration with exposure at work may not be clearly demonstrated.

Most of the patients who develop latex allergy are atopic individuals with previous complaints of allergic rhinitis and asthma. Sometimes there may be sensitization only to latex. Atopic people are more likely to develop latex-related allergies and more severe reactions.

The most serious clinical picture that a latex allergy can cause is fatal allergic shock (anaphylactic shock). The most serious consequence of latex allergy is anaphylaxis. Allergic shock is usually caused by mucosal absorption of latex proteins during surgery or medical or dental procedures in previously sensitized healthcare workers or other individuals.

Exposure to latex antigen can occur in many ways.

These can be skin, respiratory tract, mucous membrane and parenterally. Serious reactions may occur after skin and respiratory exposure, but direct mucosal and vascular exposure in surgical procedures poses the greatest risk for the development of anaphylaxis. Intravenous exposure to latex in atopic individuals can lead to more severe anaphylaxis, and atopic individuals are at greater risk of developing anaphylaxis. It is very important that high-risk individuals with a history of atopic dermatitis or allergies are examined with latex-free materials and that latex-free products are used in their procedures.

In recent years, it has been shown that there are cross-reactions between pollen and fruits and that similar allergic reactions may occur.

There are many allergens that cause latex allergy, and some of them are also found in fruits and vegetables. Sensitivity to fruits such as banana, avocado, kiwi, and chestnut has been detected in a significant portion of people with latex allergy, and a picture called latex-fruit syndrome has been defined, considering that this is due to cross-reactive allergens. Allergic reactions to various fruits and vegetables are seen much more frequently than normal in patients with latex allergy, and the same allergic pictures that occur with latex occur with these foods. In some patients with latex allergy, allergic shock may develop with fruits. People with latex-fruit allergy syndrome may experience itching on the palate and lips in the mouth, and then on the whole body, after ingesting foods that cross-react with latex. In addition, hives (urticaria), angioedema, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing may occur due to narrowing of the respiratory tract. As a result of all these, fainting and loss of consciousness develop, that is, allergic shock occurs.

Sensitization to foods is also detected in patients with latex allergy symptoms. Although it is seen that food sensitivity does not cause serious reactions in some patients with latex allergy, it is important to demonstrate food sensitivity in patients. Generally, latex allergy occurs first, and food allergies are added later. Sometimes, latex allergy may develop on the basis of food allergy.

Fruits that cause allergies most frequently in cases with latex allergy; avocado, kiwi, banana, chestnut, walnut, hazelnut, celery, potato, tomato and papaya. Fruits and vegetables that have less clinical allergy but are susceptible to include figs, melons, watermelons, peaches, pineapples, pears, celery, apples, cherries, sour cherries, strawberries, carrots, and turnips.