Latex allergy factsheet


Allergic reactions to latex in children are uncommon but can be severe.

Latex is a milky fluid that comes from plants, including rubber trees. Latex fluid is used to make natural rubber because it is strong, durable, and elastic. 

It is used to make products like:

  • balloons
  • rubber gloves
  • nipples for bottles
  • dummies for babies, also known as pacifiers or soothers
  • clothes and shoes
  • toys
  • mattresses and pillows
  • condoms
  • bandages.

Latex is common in places like the hospital, dentist, or your local doctor’s office because it is also used to make:

  • examination gloves
  • flexible tubes, like catheters 
  • sticky tapes and bandages
  • equipment like blood pressure cuffs and stethoscopes.

These products usually: 

  • sit on the skin for long periods
  • go inside organs like the lungs
  • directly touch the inside of the body - for example, inside the nose, mouth, anus, or organs during surgery.

Latex allergy can develop at any age and usually continues throughout your child’s life. 

Children who have health conditions that involve a lot of surgeries or time spent in hospital are at a higher risk of developing an allergy because they are more exposed to latex than other children.

 Signs and symptoms

Allergic contact and irritant dermatitis

Some children will have an allergy to the chemicals added to latex to turn it into rubber. This is called allergic contact dermatitis.

Symptoms of allergic contact dermatitis are on the skin and can include:

  • rough texture
  • broken skin or lesions
  • weeping or discharge of fluid
  • crusting, scabbing, or peeling.

Children can also have irritant dermatitis from moisture being trapped under latex products.

Symptoms of irritant dermatitis are on the skin and include:

  • broken skin or lesions
  • weeping or discharge of fluid
  • crusting, scabbing, or peeling.

These two conditions are not allergic reactions but can lead to an allergy developing when latex has contact with broken or irritated skin.

Latex allergy

Allergic reactions are usually fast and happen within minutes of exposure to latex.

Reactions can include:

  • hives or welts on the skin
  • redness of the skin
  • vomiting and stomach ache
  • tingling and swelling of the mouth, lips, face, and eyes.

Some children can have a more severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.

Signs of anaphylaxis include: 

  • wheezing, difficult, or noisy breathing 
  • swelling of the tongue
  • swelling or tightness in the throat
  • a persistent cough
  • difficulty talking or a hoarse voice
  • dizziness
  • becoming pale and floppy in young children
  • collapsing.

If your child has signs of anaphylaxis, you should:

  • follow your child’s ASCIA action plan for anaphylaxis if you have one
  • use an EpiPen® or Anapen®, if there is one available
  • call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance.

See your local doctor as soon as possible if your child shows signs of an allergic reaction for the first time. 

Symptoms of mild allergic reactions should fade over time. See your local doctor as soon as possible if symptoms do not get better or you are concerned.


If you think your child has had an allergic reaction that is not anaphylaxis, write down the following and see your local doctor as soon as possible:

  • the time of exposure to latex
  • time of reaction
  • type of reaction
  • the latex product that caused the reaction

A specialist doctor can diagnose a latex allergy based on your child’s:

A challenge test can be done to figure out the type of allergic reaction and how severe it is. A challenge test is done under the supervision of a doctor in the hospital. 


There is currently no treatment available for latex allergy. Your child will need to avoid products that contain latex and use latex-free options where possible.

You must tell any services your child attends about their latex allergy. 

This includes:

  • doctors
  • nurses
  • allied health - physiotherapist, occupational therapist
  • dentists.

Services will record the allergy on your child’s file, and they may ask your child to wear a wristband. This helps services ensure that the area and equipment used are safe and latex-free.


Latex-free products

Products containing latex may have “natural” or “natural rubber” on the package. 

Latex-free products are usually made of silicone or synthetic or fake rubber and will usually say on the package or description if they are latex-free. These products are safe to use and should not cause an allergic reaction. 

You will need to check common "rubbery" products for latex, including:

  • balloons
  • toys
  • dummies, pacifiers, or soothers
  • bottles
  • feeding equipment and teethers
  • swimming caps
  • arts and crafts supplies
  • stationary like pens and erasers
  • stretchy clothing made with "spandex".

If your teenager is sexually active and has a latex allergy, they will need to use latex-free condoms.

If you are unsure whether a product is safe, ask your doctor.

Fruit allergy

Children with latex allergies are more likely to have an allergy to certain fruits and vegetables, including:

  • banana
  • avocado
  • chestnut
  • papaya
  • passionfruit
  • fig
  • melon
  • kiwifruit
  • pineapple
  • peach
  • tomato.

These foods do not have to be avoided if your child has a latex allergy unless they cause a reaction. In some children, allergies to pollen, fruits and latex occur together.

Prevention and education

The most important thing you can do is support your child in avoiding latex products. You can also educate your child, family, and friends about allergies, reactions, and what to do in an emergency.

Parents of younger children will need to learn how to identify common latex products.

Older children can be supported in learning how to identify common latex products. This can help keep children safe and encourage them to be more independent and confident about their health.

Resources and more information

Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia - Your trusted charity for allergy support.

Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia

Phone1300 728 000
Provides valuable updates and tips for dealing with food allergies.
Related Links
The Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)

The Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)

Provides resources including fact sheets, e-training and information on locating allergy specialists.
Related Links
Last updated Tuesday 5th March 2024


This factsheet is provided for general information only. It does not constitute health advice and should not be used to diagnose or treat any health condition.

Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for you and/or your child.

The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network does not accept responsibility for inaccuracies or omissions, the interpretation of the information, or for success or appropriateness of any treatment described in the factsheet.

© Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network 2024