Latex is made from a milky fluid that comes from the rubber tree. It is used to make many products used at home and in healthcare, like balloons, toys, and gloves.
An allergy is the body’s reaction to a substance that is normally harmless. With a latex allergy, your child’s body sees latex as harmful or foreign and the immune system reacts to the latex.
The immune system is the body's natural defense against bacteria, viruses, and other foreign substances. Before your child can have a reaction to a particular substance, the immune system must first be sensitive to it. Usually this means the body has to have been exposed to the substance at least once before. Once it is sensitive to it, the body will react every time your child has contact with the substance.
Your child may be more likely to have a latex allergy if he or she has:
Symptoms can develop over several hours or they may start right away. Symptoms of a mild allergy may include:
Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction may include:
Your healthcare provider will ask about your child's symptoms and medical history, especially around contact with latex, and examine your child.
Testing is not always needed, but allergy tests can show if your child is allergic to latex if needed.
There is no specific treatment for latex allergy symptoms. If your child is having a mild skin reaction, your child’s healthcare provider may recommend a steroid cream to decrease symptoms.
Your child’s provider may prescribe an emergency kit for a severe allergy to latex. It contains a ready-to-use injection of epinephrine. Epinephrine relaxes the muscles in your child’s airways and throughout their body. It is usually given as a shot. Your child may need more than one shot to decrease symptoms. If your child is known to have a serious reaction, the provider may want your child to carry an emergency kit. Your child or someone with them can give the shot. Whether or not your child has epinephrine, call 911 or your local emergency services right away for all severe allergic reactions.
Follow the full course of treatment prescribed by your child’s healthcare provider. In addition:
There are many things made from vinyl, plastic, or silicone that can be used instead of latex products.