What is latex?
Natural rubber latex comes from a liquid in tropical rubber trees. This liquid is processed to make many of the following rubber products used at home and at work:
- Dishwashing gloves
- Waistbands on clothing
- Rubber toys
- Pacifiers and baby-bottle nipples
- Rubber bands
- Adhesive tape and bandages
- Diapers and sanitary pads
In addition, many medical and dental supplies contain latex, including gloves, blood pressure cuffs, urinary catheters, dental dams and material used to fill root canals, as well as tourniquets and equipment for resuscitation. Non-latex substitutes can be found for all of these latex-containing items.
What is latex allergy?
The protein in rubber can cause an allergic reaction in some people. This reaction can range from sneezing to anaphylactic shock, which is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.
The thin, stretchy latex rubber in gloves, condoms and balloons is high in this protein. It causes more allergic reactions than products made of hard latex rubber (such as tires). Because some latex gloves are coated with cornstarch powder, latex protein particles can stick to the cornstarch and fly into the air when the gloves are taken off. In places where gloves are being put on and removed frequently, the air may contain many latex particles.