Latex Allergy in Children: Care Instructions

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Latex is a natural rubber made from a type of tree. Some people have allergic reactions after contact with things made of latex, such as latex gloves. In an allergic reaction, the immune system starts fighting a substance that is normally harmless, such as latex, as though it were trying to harm the body.

Latex allergies may cause mild symptoms, such as a rash on the skin. Severe reactions to latex are more serious. They need to be treated right away. They can cause trouble breathing and can even be life-threatening.

The best way to manage a latex allergy is to avoid products that have latex. Make sure that you know what to do if you or your child has an allergic reaction to latex. Have the recommended medicines, such as antihistamines or an epinephrine shot, available.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Have your child avoid products that contain latex. These products may include:
    • Diapers.
    • Pacifiers and baby bottle nipples.
    • Balloons and rubber toys.
    • Rubber bands.
    • Computer mouse pads.
    • Medical items, such as gloves, drains, tourniquets, urinary catheters, wraps, and adhesives used for bandages and tapes.
  • Always tell your health care providers that your child has a latex allergy.
  • Ask the doctor about giving your child a nondrowsy antihistamine, such as loratadine (Claritin), to help treat mild symptoms. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Mild symptoms include sneezing or an itchy or runny nose; an itchy mouth; a few hives or mild itchy skin; and mild belly pain or nausea.
  • Your doctor may prescribe a shot of epinephrine for you or your child to carry in case your child has a severe reaction. Learn how to give your child the shot. Older, mature children should be taught to give themselves the shot. Make sure it is with your child at all times. Make sure it has not expired.
  • Talk to your child's teachers and caregivers. Teach them what to do if your child has an allergic reaction to latex. Keep an epinephrine shot at your child's school or day care in case your child has a reaction.
  • Have your child wear medical alert jewelry that lists all allergies. You can buy this at most drugstores.

When should you call for help?

Give an epinephrine shot if:

  • You think your child is having a severe allergic reaction.

After giving an epinephrine shot call 911, even if your child feels better.

Call 911 if:

  • Your child has symptoms of a severe allergic reaction. These may include:
    • Sudden raised, red areas (hives) all over the body.
    • Swelling of the throat, mouth, lips, or tongue.
    • Trouble breathing.
    • Passing out (losing consciousness). Or your child may feel very lightheaded or suddenly feel weak, confused, or restless.
    • Severe belly pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. (A baby with pain or nausea may be really fussy and not stop crying.)

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as:
    • A rash or hives (raised, red areas on the skin).
    • Itching.
    • Swelling.
    • Mild belly pain or nausea.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.