Natural rubber latex allergy after 12 years: Recommendations and perspectives

B. Lauren Charous, Carlos Blanco, Susan Tarlo, Robert G. Hamilton, Xaver Baur, Donald Beezhold, Gordon Sussman, John W. Yunginger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Natural rubber latex (NRL) allergy is a "new" illness whose prevalence reached epidemic proportions in highly exposed populations during the last decade. In children with spina bifida and in patients exposed to NRL during radiologic procedures, institution of prophylactic safety measures has had demonstrable effects in preventing allergic reactions. The risk of NRL allergy appears to be largely linked to occupational exposure, and NRL-associated occupational asthma is due almost solely to powdered latex glove use. Prevalence of NRL-allergic sensitization in the general population is quite low; several studies of young adults demonstrate rates of positive skin test results that are less than 1%. After occupational exposure, rates of sensitization and NRL-induced asthma rise dramatically in individuals using powdered NRL gloves but not in individuals using powder-free gloves. Airborne NRL is dependent on the use of powdered NRL gloves; conversion to non-NRL or nonpowdered NRL substitutes results in predictable rapid disappearance of detectable levels of aeroallergen. For these reasons, adoption of the following institutional policies designed to prevent new cases of NRL allergy and maximize safety is recommended: (1) NRL gloves should be used only as mandated by accepted Standard Precautions; (2) only nonpowdered, nonsterile NRL gloves should be used; and (3) nonpowdered, sterile NRL gloves are preferred for use. Low-protein powdered, sterile gloves may be used, but only in conjunction with an ongoing assessment for development of allergic reactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-34
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Allergic sensitization
  • Latex
  • Latex gloves
  • Natural rubber latex
  • Occupation asthma
  • Standard Precautions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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