What is Rubber Allergy?

About 90% of rubber is made from the milky sap of the rubber tree – Hevea brasiliensis. People develop rubber allergy when the immune system mistakenly identifies the proteins in the rubber as harmful and reacts against it. People in healthcare, and rubber industry are at high risk of developing rubber allergy.

Symptoms of Rubber Allergy:

  • Hives, rashes, itchiness at the site of the contact of rubber with the skin.
  • The rash may be well-defined, outlining the shape of the rubber product
  • Watery eyes, runny nose, respiratory problems, cough
  • Anaphylaxis is a rare allergic reaction, which can be severe in nature. It can also be fatal.

Rubber Allergy and Associated Allergies:

People with rubber or latex allergy may also be allergic to tomatoes, avocados, chestnuts, and bananas. This is because the rubber and these share similar proteins and may trigger similar kind of reaction.

Rubber allergy can be caused due to rubber gloves, footwear, goggles, rubber bands, adhesives, and other products.

Preventing Rubber Allergy:

  • Instead of rubber gloves, use polythene or vinyl gloves
  • Use products made of wood, plastic, vinyl, fabric or leather products
  • Use hypoallergenic rubber products

Diagnosis and Treatment of Rubber Allergy:

Rubber allergy can be diagnosed by conducting skin prick test or blood test (RAST). You can consult your allergist for allergy testing. Once diagnosed, you would have to avoid rubber products If you develop an allergy, antihistamines or topical steroids can be helpful. In case of severe allergy, epinephrine should be administered to treat the reaction.

Rubber allergy or latex allergy is usually caused due to excessive exposure to rubber. Healthcare workers should be careful and can avoid excessive exposure. If you experience allergy, do consult your doctor and get yourself tested. This can help you in avoiding rubber and its products.

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