Latex Sensitivity

There is a growing concern over latex sensitivity. Latex is very strongly allergenic and is nearly everywhere. It is estimated to occur in 20,000 substances, with exposure beginning at the time of birth, from contact with the latex rubber gloves worn by medical personnel. There are three major clinical manifestations of allergic reaction to latex: local skin irritation, a delayed contact dermatitis, and classical atopic or allergic disease including life-threatening anaphylaxis.

Associated with latex sensitivity is the Latex Fruit Syndrome. Here we have an example of the principle of Concomitancy, whereby diverse substances may share a similar molecular pattern and exhibit cross-reactivity. Some fruits have components which are molecular mimics of latex and provoke similar reactions in latex-sensitive individuals. Avocado, banana, kiwi, chestnuts, melon, and walnuts all cross-react with latex.

For latex-sensitive individuals, avoidance of latex and the above concomitant fruits is critical.

Neutralization does appear helpful, and the Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine has been studying neutralization in this area.

Reference: Frankland AW. Editorial Latex Allergy. Clin Exp Allergy 1995;25:199-201


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