What do people with latex allergy need to know during the COVID-19 crisis?
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE), including N95 masks, eyewear and gloves. If you have a latex allergy, you may wonder: will the demand for gloves by medical professionals and the public-at-large lead to a resurgence in use of latex gloves?
This need for PPE has the potential to create problems for those people who are allergic to latex. It is also a risk for others who could develop a latex allergy from repetitive use of latex gloves.
In the 1980s, there was an increased demand for latex gloves to protect healthcare workers. This resulted in an epidemic of latex allergy. Individuals who became allergic to latex experienced various symptoms ranging from contact dermatitis, runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, as well as asthma and anaphylaxis in severe cases. Many in the healthcare field were adversely affected.
It is important that we do not forget the lessons learned in the 1980s and ‘90s as to the potential of developing latex allergy and preventing exposure to people already allergic to latex.
What do you recommend for people with latex allergies during COVID-19?
Board-certified allergist Sandra Gawchik, MD shares the following recommendations for those who are already latex-allergic:
- Wear your medical alert bracelet at all times
- Carry your own gloves – nitrile or vinyl gloves
- Keep a twin-pack of epinephrine auto-injectors if you have experienced anaphylaxis in the past
- Alert all medical professionals about your allergy
- Carry a card with you that provides a history of your latex allergy and your doctor’s contact information in the event of an emergency
In addition, it is advisable to always carry a bag or backpack that contains your needed supplies.
It is important that we all educate the community and healthcare professionals about the potential to develop an allergy to latex.
Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for people with latex allergy?
The Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines use vial stoppers that are not made with natural rubber latex. People with latex allergy are not at risk for a latex allergy reaction from the vaccine. Learn more on our COVID-19 vaccine allergy page.
Read more in our Latex Allergy & COVID-19 Fact Sheet (PDF).
Visit our Latex Allergy Resources.
Visit our COVID-19 Information Center.
We’re here to help! The Allergy & Asthma Network is committed to getting information into the hands of our patients and stakeholders during this uncertain time of the COVID-19 crisis.