Latex allergy: diagnosis and management


Address correspondence and reprint requests to: James S. Taylor, MD, Department of Dermatology, Desk A-61, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44195–5032, or email:


ABSTRACT:  Latex allergy is an IgE-mediated immediate hypersensitivity response to natural rubber latex (NRL) protein with a variety of clinical signs ranging from contact urticaria, angioedema, asthma, and anaphylaxis. Major allergens include dipped latex products such as gloves and balloons. In highest risk for NRL allergy are patients with spina bifida, but health care workers and others who wear latex gloves are also at risk. NRL allergic patients may also react to fruits/foods, especially banana, kiwi, and avocado. Diagnosis is made by a positive latex RAST and/or skin prick test or challenge test to NRL. Allergen avoidance and substitution and the use of latex-safe devices including synthetic gloves (vinyl, synthetic polyisoprene, neoprene, nitrile, block polymers, or polyurethane) are essential for the affected patient. Accommodation in the workplace may include the use of powder-free, low-allergen NRL gloves or synthetic gloves. These preventive measures have significantly reduced the prevalence of reported reactions to NRL. Hyposensitization is not yet feasible.