I have a job in a medical setting which puts me at risk for a latex allergy. My symptoms decrease when I'm away from my work setting, but come back immediately when I return. Do I have a latex allergy, and will I be able to continue doing my current job?

Answered by: Donald Beezhold, PhD, Senior Scientist

Yes, latex proteins are transferred to almost any surface that is contacted by natural rubber latex gloves (1,2). This transfer is dependent on the concentration of NRL protein contaminating the glove and the texture of the surface that is contacted. The presence of moisture on the contact surface will enhance the transfer. We know that latex allergic patients can have severe allergic reactions to foods handled by latex gloves (2,3) where food cross-reactivity is not an issue. Low protein gloves transfer proteins at a level that we can not detect in the laboratory, however some highly sensitive patients may still be able to detect them. Based on our understanding of the available data, it is highly recommended that food handlers do not wear latex gloves.

  1. Beezhold DH, Kostyal DA, Wiseman JS. The transfer of protein allergens from latex gloves. A study of influencing factors. AORN 59:605-614, 1994
  2. Beezhold D, Reschke J, Allen J, Kostyal D, Sussman G. Latex protein: A hidden food allergen? Allergy Asthma Proceedings 21:301-306, 2000.
  3. Bernardini R, Novembre E, Lombardi E, Pucci N, Marcucci F, Vierucci A. 

Anaphylaxis to latex after ingestion of a cream-filled doughnut contaminated with latex. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2002 Sep;110(3):534-5.

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