Latex Allergy Foods: Symptoms, List of Foods, and Treatment

For people with a latex allergy, foods like avocado, bananas, and kiwi can also cause an allergic reaction known as latex-fruit syndrome.

Natural latex is a milky sap from the Hevea brasiliensis rubber tree used to make balloons, condoms, mattresses, and many medical and dental products. Latex allergies can cause symptoms that range from a mild rash or stuffy nose to life-threatening anaphylaxis. Bamboo Kitchen Organizer

Latex Allergy Foods: Symptoms, List of Foods, and Treatment

Many foods contain proteins similar to those in natural latex. An estimated 30% to 50% of people with latex allergies have a cross-reaction to foods with these proteins.

This article explains why this cross-reactivity happens and how to identify latex allergy foods. It also lists some foods and latex products you'll need to avoid if you have a latex allergic reaction.

An allergic reaction to latex can range from a reasonably mild, itchy rash on the skin to the severe and systemic effects of a potentially fatal anaphylactic shock . The reaction can happen immediately, or for certain skin reactions, you may experience a delayed response of up to 48 hours.

There are two types of latex allergies: A classic allergy is a full-body immune system response. The other only affects the skin (contact dermatitis). 

A classic latex allergy is an immunoglobulin E (IgE) mediated immune response triggered by proteins in natural latex. An IgE-mediated response can be life-threatening and occurs when latex touches skin or mucous membranes, or particles are inhaled.  

Classic latex allergy symptoms include:

In some cases, a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis can occur. This causes severe breathing difficulty and a drop in blood pressure (shock).

If you or someone you know is having difficulty breathing, call 911 immediately.

Contact dermatitis is a skin reaction that occurs when the skin comes in contact with latex. Dermatitis—which literally means inflamed skin—can cause skin symptoms, including:

Contact dermatitis with latex comes in two different types:

Many people who develop classic latex allergies first experience contact dermatitis reactions. People with contact dermatitis from latex should try to avoid latex.

Latex is used to make many products, such as foam rubber pillows or your mattress. It can be found in some surprising places, including:

Latex also is found in clothing, household items like garden hoses or bathmats, and computer gear like mouse pads. Pacifiers and baby bottle nipples may contain latex. All told, latex is found in more than 40,000 products.

Natural rubber latex contains proteins that can trigger an allergic reaction. Some food contains similar proteins and can cause what is known as latex-fruit reactions.

As the name suggests, a latex-fruit reaction can occur with certain fruits and vegetables with seeds. Animal products (meat, dairy, and eggs) will not cause this reaction and are generally safe for people with latex allergies.

Latex-fruit reactions can be as severe as a classic latex allergy and may cause anaphylaxis. It can also produce mild symptoms, similar to oral allergy syndrome, and includes:

Possibly, but much about latex allergy remains unknown. Cross-reactivity often occurs within a "family" of foods. If you have a reaction to apples, you may also react to other members of the Rosacaean fruit family, like peaches, apricots, plums, or cherries. Ask your healthcare provider about which foods you need to avoid. Many patients can tolerate foods in the same family, and your history will help guide your allergist in making recommendations.

Food and latex cross-reactions only occur with plant-based foods. Some foods pose a higher risk for a latex-fruit reaction. This list is not exhaustive, and more research is needed to determine what other foods may also cross-react with latex.

A few foods are more likely to contain proteins that can cause latex-fruit syndrome. About half of all people with a latex allergy may develop related symptoms if they eat:

Other foods contain moderate levels of the protein that triggers latex allergy symptoms. These include:

Many fruits and vegetables contain low or unknown levels of latex proteins and are considered low-risk for people with latex allergies. These include:

However, it is essential to note that some foods with a low or unknown risk of latex cross-reaction can still cause severe problems for some people.

For example, jackfruit—a tropical fruit used as a meat substitute in vegetarian diets—has been linked to a few reports of anaphylaxis in people with latex allergies. Though rare, people with a known latex allergy should use caution with jackfruit.

Dining out with a latex food allergy is possible but requires care. Food workers often wear gloves, which may introduce latex. Latex also may be airborne or may be present in materials used in the environment. Try a food allergy app, or check first with the restaurant; many chain restaurants provide latex allergy information.

Blood tests are available for both food allergies and latex allergies. Skin tests are also available for food allergens but are not available for latex in the United States.

This type of testing measures the amount of IgE antibodies in your blood that are produced to attack the allergen being tested. To measure the antibodies, a healthcare professional will need to collect a sample of blood from your vein and send it to a laboratory. A positive result is usually a sign of an allergy, but it's not uncommon to get false-positive results.

The scratch test, also called a skin prick or puncture test, uses needles to introduce a small number of potential allergens just below the skin's surface. Reactions commonly appear within 15 minutes, though your healthcare provider may keep you for observation for up to an hour.

Between 30% and 50% of people with latex allergies also test positive for a food allergy. However, a positive skin test does not necessarily mean you will have a reaction if you eat the food.

If you have a known latex allergy, it is important your healthcare provider or allergist evaluates you for the possibility of a food allergy. They also may want to rule out other possible conditions responsible for your symptoms, such as asthma.

Anyone can develop a latex allergy, but some people are at higher risk. Latex allergies are more common in people with the following medical conditions:

It is also more common in people with multiple birth defects, anorectal or urogenital abnormalities, or a tracheoesophageal fistula.

The precise link between medical conditions and latex allergies is unclear. It could be due to an unidentified disease process or frequent latex exposure during multiple surgeries associated with the conditions.

There is no known treatment for a latex allergic reaction. Avoiding all latex is key. Due to the potential for severe food allergy symptoms as well, it's important to identify and avoid the fruits or other foods that cause your cross-reactivity.

Other recommendations for people who have or are at high risk for latex and food allergies include:

About 10% of people with a fruit allergy are also cross-reactive to latex. If that's the case for your child, you'll want to know more about other sources of latex they may encounter, like the glue on envelopes or the chairs they sit in. Latex-free school products and sports equipment are available. Ensure you and your pediatrician share age-appropriate information about latex allergy and latex products with your child.

If you have a known allergy to latex or foods, the best way to prevent a reaction is to avoid the allergen. In the case of latex allergies: 

People who have latex allergies often have a food allergy, typically to fruits that have proteins similar to those found in natural rubber latex. This cross-reactivity means they may have to avoid certain foods and latex products.

Avocado, banana, and kiwi are common fruits that can trigger this response. There are many other latex food allergies, so it's essential to identify what's causing the allergy. Your healthcare provider or allergy specialist can help you understand your diagnosis and its treatment.

Sometimes, a latex food allergy can cause a life-threatening anaphylactic response. Seek medical care immediately if latex or a related fruit allergy causes sudden and severe symptoms.

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By Daniel More, MD Daniel More, MD, is a board-certified allergist and clinical immunologist. He is an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine and currently practices at Central Coast Allergy and Asthma in Salinas, California.

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Latex Allergy Foods: Symptoms, List of Foods, and Treatment

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