Latex allergy


At a latex allergy The immune system responds excessively to natural latex or synthetically produced latex products. The skin is reddened at the point of contact, itches and burns. Medical staff is particularly prone to latex allergies. For a latex allergy contact with latex products should be avoided. Read all important information latex allergy.

ICD codes for this disease: ICD codes are internationally valid medical diagnosis codes. They are found e.g. in medical reports or on incapacity certificates. L23ArtikelübersichtLatexallergie

  • description
  • symptoms
  • Causes and risk factors
  • Examinations and diagnosis
  • treatment
  • Disease course and prognosis

Latex allergy: description

A latex allergy is an allergic reaction to natural latex or synthetic latex products. Two percent of the population in Germany suffer from such an allergy. It has become more and more common in the last 30 years. It is now one of the most common occupational allergies. About ten to 17 percent of medical staff have a latex allergy.

Natural latex is extracted from the rubber tree. It serves, among other things, the production of plasters, disposable gloves, catheters, cannulas and other medical products. However, latex can also be found in everyday objects such as pacifiers, rubber cuffs, balloons, condoms or hot water bottles.

The latex allergy can be divided into two different types of allergy: the fast of the "immediate type" (type 1) and the slower and of the "late type" (type 4). In the Type 1 latex allergy The body produces so-called IgE antibodies against certain proteins in natural latex. In theType-4-latex allergy additives (dyes, antioxidants, etc.) in the latex are the cause of the allergy. The type 4 allergy usually occurs about twelve hours after contact with the latex. So-called T lymphocytes of the immune system mistakenly recognize the additives as dangerous and try to fend off them.

Latex allergy: condoms

Some people are allergic to latex condoms. As the mucous membranes of the genital area are particularly thin and sensitive, women in particular suffer from burning and itching in the genital area. Meanwhile, there are also latex-free condoms.

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Latex allergy: symptoms

The symptoms of a latex allergy can vary widely and depend, among other things, on how the allergens reach humans:

Type 1 latex allergy

In this allergic reaction, at the point where the skin came in contact with latex, there are usually very itchy wheals. The skin is very red. The changes can spread to the whole body.

Especially with the powdered latex gloves, which are commonly used in medicine, the allergens are whirled up when the gloves are put on and sometimes inhaled. The affected then suffer from irritating coughing to respiratory distress. Her eyes are watering, her nose is running. Sometimes an asthma attack can be triggered.

Sometimes the immune system reacts so excessively that the circulatory system of the body collapses. Blood pressure drops, the bronchi contract. Those affected suffer from severe respiratory distress, coughing, circulatory problems and even fainting. The case is called anaphylactic shock. He can be life threatening.

Type-4-latex allergy

In latex production, additives that have allergenic effects are often added. The type 4 latex allergy usually causes symptoms only after more than twelve hours. The affected area of ​​the skin reacts with redness, papules or blisters. Itching can occur. One also speaks of contact dermatitis. If contact with the additives persists, the eczema can become chronic. The skin becomes thicker, flaky and cracked and is more susceptible to infection.

In this case too, skin lesions can spread to the whole body and cause anaphylactic shock.

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Latex allergy: causes and risk factors

On the one hand, natural latex itself is an allergenic substance, on the other hand, the industrially manufactured latex contains many additives such as antioxidants or dyes, which can cause allergies.

Latex is found in many everyday utensils. Frequent contact leads to "sensitization" over time, that is, the body has developed an immune defense against latex or its additives. When it is again exposed to the allergenic substance, the immune system reacts excessively.

risk factors

Medical staff is exposed to latex very often. Therefore, the latex allergy is common in this profession. If people often come into contact with latex through medical interventions, they also have an increased risk of developing a latex allergy. If there is already an allergy or other disease with an overwhelming immune response, as in asthma or atopic dermatitis, this is accompanied by an increased tendency for a latex allergy.

Avoid latex in everyday life

Since the latex content is not adequately labeled in many commodities, it is not easy to completely avoid latex in everyday life. Especially often the following products contain latex:

  • Condoms and diaphragm
  • mattresses
  • adhesives
  • balloons
  • Pacifier and Nipple Bottle Attachments
  • Erasers and chewing gum
  • Elastic bands (sewn into clothing)
  • Shoes
  • Household gloves
  • car tire

cross allergies

Patients suffering from a latex allergy sometimes also have an allergic reaction to certain foods. In these cases one speaks of a cross allergy. Banana, kiwi, fig or avocado are common triggers. But certain plants also have an allergenic effect in many cases. These include the mulberry tree, rubber trees, poinsettias, hemp or oleander.

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Latex allergy: examinations and diagnosis

If you suspect a latex allergy, you should consult a doctor. He will first ask a few questions in order to estimate the risk of an allergy.

  • What are your complaints?
  • Do you suffer from other allergies?
  • What profession are you following?

This is followed by a detailed examination of the affected skin site. Finally, the doctor has several allergic tests available to help him diagnose a latex allergy.