Living With a Latex Allergy
Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last Reviewed: March 2022 | Last updated: May 2022
Living with a latex allergy can be hard. Finding ways to adjust your life and work, taking safety precautions, and making sure you have support takes time and effort. It also may be expensive to buy latex-free products and epinephrine auto-injectors.
If you are concerned about how a latex allergy will impact your life, talk with your allergist. They treat people with all types of allergies. They may be able to offer helpful suggestions, guidance, and resources you would not have found on your own.
Safety tips in healthcare settings
If you have a latex allergy, you will need to be especially careful in hospitals and doctor’s offices. Let the staff know ahead of time that you have a latex allergy, and bring your epinephrine auto-injectors with you to every appointment.1
Ask anyone who comes into contact with you to wear latex-free gloves and use latex-free equipment. Bring your own latex-free gloves to share, just in case. Some hospitals and clinics have latex-free rooms for people with these allergies. Wear your medical alert jewelry and be aware of the early signs of an allergic reaction.2,3
Safety tips for daily life
If you or your child has a latex allergy, there are many tips for making your daily life safer. Steps you can take include:1,3
- Read product and food labels carefully
- Tell friends and family about your latex allergy so they can help protect you
- Wear a medical alert ID
- Carry at least 2 epinephrine auto-injectors with you at all times
- Leave epinephrine auto-injectors in places you spend most of your time, such as work and home
- Carry non-latex gloves
- Make sure your school or workplace has epinephrine auto-injectors on hand
- Share a list of common products that contain latex to share with your social circle, school, and work
Latex can be found in a wide variety of products, including:4
- School and office supplies like erasers, rubber bands, mouse pads, pens, headphones, rubber cement, and tape
- Clothing, such as elastic waistbands, pantyhose, swimsuits, raincoats
- Sports equipment like swim goggles and balls
- Baby items like bottle nipples, diapers, pacifiers, teething toys
- Personal care items like fake eyelashes, cosmetic sponges, condoms, dental dams
- Household items like flooring, floor mats, paint, dishwashing gloves
When buying products, always read labels to make sure it does not contain any latex. It is a good rule of thumb to check everything to help reduce your risk of accidental exposure.
Use a database or online list to check which products are known to contain latex or be latex-free. Examples include:5-9
- Allergy & Asthma Network's list of latex-free sports equipment
- Allergy & Asthma Network's list of latex-free school products
- EWG’s Skin Deep list of cosmetic products
- Anaphylaxis Campaign's list of many latex-free household products
- Spina Bifida Association's list of products and latex-free alternatives
Avoiding certain foods
Sometimes, people with a latex allergy also have reactions to certain foods. This is because some foods contain proteins that are similar to the ones in the rubber tree sap. This causes the immune system to react to these in the same way. People with latex allergies can have a reaction to “latex reactive foods.”1
This is also called latex-fruit allergy or latex-food syndrome. Many people with latex allergy have allergic reactions to 1 or more of these foods:10
- Bell peppers
- Passion fruit
If you have had a reaction to these foods, you will likely have to avoid them. While food shopping and eating at restaurants or friends’ homes, being careful about ingredients. This can help reduce your chances of accidental exposure.
Support and resources
Talk with your allergist about any local in-person support groups and resources that may be helpful to you. Online support like that found on Allergies.net may be helpful in learning how others navigate relationships, doctors’ appointments, workplace issues, and school.
Talk with friends, family, and partners about your latex allergy. With safety precautions, latex allergy does not have to negatively affect your social relationships.