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Oral Health Topics

Allergy to Latex Rubber

Overview

Natural rubber latex, which comes from the sap of rubber trees, contains protein that can cause allergic reactions in some people. Synthetic latex products don't contain this protein. On this page, we use latex to refer to natural rubber latex products.

What puts me a risk for an allergic reaction?

Many dental professionals come into contact with latex products every day (i.e., examination gloves, dental dams, tubing, etc). This repeated exposure increases the risk of developing a latex allergy.

Handling latex products is not the only way to expose yourself to latex protein. You can inhale this protein, which becomes airborne when you take off latex gloves that are lined with powder.

What are some symptoms of latex allergy?

Symptoms of latex allergy include:

  • Skin reactions like itching, redness, rash or hives
  • Itchy nose, throat or eyes
  • Difficulty breathing, including a runny nose, sneezing, coughing or wheezing

In rare cases, a dangerous systemic reaction can occur, which could be life-threatening, that causes a drop in blood pressure, difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat, tongue and nose.

If you suspect that you may have a latex allergy, see your physician. You may need to work in a latex-free environment.

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