alt=a person handing someone a poinsettia that they are refusing because of a latex allergy

Have a Latex Allergy? Don't Decorate With Poinsettias!

Last updated: December 2022

If you have a latex allergy, you probably know to avoid latex gloves and balloons. But did you know that poinsettias may also cause an allergic reaction?1

That's right, those beautiful red and green plants that are so popular during the holidays are related to rubber trees. And poinsettia sap contains latex. So if you're one of the millions of Americans with a latex allergy, it may be best to steer clear of these festive plants.1

What is latex?

Latex is a milky-white fluid that is produced by some plants, like rubber trees. It is also found in a variety of other plant species, such as dandelions, mosses, and ferns. Latex is found naturally and is also used in manufacturing. It has many uses. When latex is tapped from a tree, it can be used to make a variety of products, such as:2

  • Rubber gloves
  • Tires
  • Balloons
  • Balls

It's used in medical supplies. And it can be found in household items like carpet backing, adhesives, paints, and even food products. And, of course, it's found in nature too – in the sap of certain trees and plants, like poinsettias.3

What are the symptoms of a latex allergy?

Some people are allergic to latex. Symptoms can range from mild (hives or itching) to severe (difficulty breathing or anaphylaxis). The symptoms of a poinsettia allergy are similar, though they may vary from person to person.4

The good news is that the poinsettia plant itself is not poisonous. Some people with latex allergies may just have a minor skin reaction after touching the leaves of a poinsettia.4

Suppose you have a latex allergy and come into contact with a poinsettia. In that case, you may experience 1 or more of the following symptoms:1

  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Redness or swelling
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Coughing
  • Throat irritation

If you touch a poinsettia and experience a mild skin reaction or rash, an antihistamine or 1 percent hydrocortisone cream may clear it up.1

If your symptoms do worsen, seek medical attention immediately. Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening reaction. It can occur within minutes of exposure to an allergen like latex. Symptoms include low blood pressure, trouble breathing, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, or even loss of consciousness.5

If not treated immediately, anaphylaxis can be fatal. If your latex allergy puts you at risk for anaphylaxis, make sure you always have your epinephrine auto-injectors with you. These auto-injectors should be the first line of treatment if you have an anaphylactic reaction. Keep in mind, however, that anaphylaxis from touching a poinsettia is extremely rare.1,5

Stay safe during the holidays

Many people enjoy decorating their homes with poinsettias during the holidays. But if you suspect that you may be allergic to latex, it is best to avoid poinsettias altogether. There are many other types of plants that make excellent holiday decorations and are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Remember, your health is worth more than a festive plant!

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