Latex Allergy Clinical Presentation

Updated: Jan 08, 2016
  • Author: Amy J Behrman, MD; Chief Editor: Erik D Schraga, MD  more...
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Presentation

History

Symptoms of delayed (type IV) hypersensitivity usually develop within 1-2 days of exposure. Immediate (type I) hypersensitivity causes symptoms within minutes of exposure. Immediate symptoms may include the following:

  • Pruritus of exposed skin and mucous membranes
  • Edema of the skin, mucous membranes, or subcutaneous tissues
  • Hoarseness
  • Tearing
  • Rhinitis
  • Dyspnea
  • Lightheadedness, syncope
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Diarrhea
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Physical

See the list below:

  • Rash
    • Erythema, edema, papules, and vesicles in areas of direct contact (type IV)
    • Erythema, thickening, and pigment changes with chronic exposure (type IV)
    • Urticaria, localized or generalized (type I)
  • Angioedema
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Rhinitis
  • Stridor
  • Wheezing
  • Hypotension, shock
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Causes

The source of latex exposure may be obvious or occult. The history of latex allergy may be known or unknown. Individuals may be exposed to latex through their skin, mucous membranes, or airway (ie, oral, nasal, or endotracheal tissue). Medical procedures may cause reactions in sensitized providers or patients. Inadvertent inhalational exposure is frequent in medical settings where aerosolized latex-laden glove powder may remain airborne for hours; this risk is reduced when powder-free products are used. Inhalational exposure also may occur outside hospitals from use of powder-lubricated latex products or even tire particles in heavy traffic areas. Common sources of latex exposure include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Gloves (eg, examination, surgical, household)
  • Tourniquets, blood pressure cuffs
  • Stethoscopes
  • Catheters
  • Intravenous tubing, devices, and ports; syringe plungers
  • Electrode pads
  • Goggles
  • Respirators
  • Wound drains and tubes
  • Multidose vial tops
  • Dental dams
  • Tires
  • Handgrips
  • Carpeting
  • Shoe soles, elastic in clothing
  • Condoms, diaphragms
  • Balloons
  • Pacifiers, baby bottle nipples
  • Erasers, computer mouse pads, and rubber bands
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