ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Living with a Latex Allergy: Avoiding Poison in Public Places

Updated on August 13, 2012

Accidental Exposures Poll

Have you ever had an unexplained allergic reaction?

See results

Latex is Everywhere

Living with a latex allergy has made me consider every small decision when going someplace new. Will I have a reaction to the fabrics or the cleaning method or the air filtration system? Here are a few of the things that a person with a severe latex allergy has to consider when going out.


Dining Out

It is hard to avoid the latex gloves found in many restaurant kitchens. The first order of business is to ask each and every restaurant what kind of gloves they use. This often requires a call ahead of time or a conversation with the host/hostess. If they don’t know, ask to see the box of gloves.

Boxes that say latex-free, vinyl, or neoprene are fine. Beware, most eating establishments do not understand the seriousness of latex allergies and may offer responses such as “We use both kinds, our chef will put on non-latex gloves for your order.” This is not good enough because if latex proteins are present in the kitchen, then all the food and surfaces are essentially poisoned. Another response may be, “We only use them for salad prep” or “Only at the sushi bar.” The same rule applies and a latex allergic person cannot eat there.

I don’t worry about utensils in restaurants. Most professional level cookware does not contain cheap soft plastics like latex.

Important to note that some states, some counties, and some towns have passed laws and ordinances banning use of latex in food establishments. Check your state's .gov website.


Call ahead and ask if the cleaning staff use latex gloves. You wouldn’t want to sleep on a bed full of latex proteins. While you are at it, check the hotel kitchen used for room service. You may need to talk to the concierge and the head of housekeeping.

Going to the Gym

Most gyms I’ve been to actually smell like rubber. That tells you how much latex is present. The grips on most machines are made of latex rubber, the mats on the floor, the floor itself, the treadmills, etc. Non-slip surfaces are most often covered in latex. Even some yoga mats contain latex. Wearing cloth batting gloves may help with touching the individual machines. However, the smell of rubber indicates that there is airborne latex present and an allergic person should proceed with caution.


I’ve accepted that I may never get a brand new car in my lifetime. The new car smell is a combination of off-gassing poisons including latex. I recently rode in a new car and my face immediately started itching and my lips became swollen after a 15 minute ride. This is important to note for rental cars and when carpooling.

Latex is everywhere, especially in public transportation. Most seat cushions are made of a foam that contains latex. This is true for cars, airplanes, and some trains. As long as my skin does not come in contact I tend to be fine as this is not airborne latex. However, my uncle, a retired employee of the National Transportation Safety Board, did some hunting for me and newer airplanes sometimes use latex rubber in the air system hoses. This means that air can be pumped directly through latex tubing for passengers to breathe. My uncle was clear in saying that it is not all planes and varies from model to model. However, there are some people with severe latex allergies who will never fly on a plane again as the risk is too big.

Medical Facilities

The dentist is my Kryptonite and not for the usual reasons. Latex can be found in toothbrushes, dental dams, and on the handles of most dental equipment. Some dentists are proudly latex free but most can’t guarantee some level of cross-contamination.

I ask at every doctor’s office if the facility is latex free. Latex is used commonly for gloves, though this policy is changing slowly as more and more medical professionals are developing life-threatening latex allergies. Plastic tubing for fluids can be made of latex. Think about this when getting blood work done. The cuff on the blood pressure meter and the rubber pieces of the equipment can contain latex. Finally, the rubber stopper at the top of syringes used for vaccines can be made of latex. This is often difficult to track but I was able to determine that the flu shots delivered to my county contained a latex stopper and I was not able to get one this year. You have to trace the vaccines back to the manufacturer.

Latex is also used by Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists especially in the form of Thera-band exercise bands. There are latex free alternatives but they are more expensive and in a room where lots of latex proteins have been spraying into the air by many individuals, it is not a matter of simply changing out the band for one person’s session.

A person with a latex allergy should have a neon warning sticker on all medical folders and documents at each doctor’s office. When in doubt, especially when a new nurse comes into the room, I reiterate the severity of my latex allergy. Some people even have medical alert bracelets made stating their latex allergy.

Tips on Living with a Latex Allergy

  • Keep a journal. You can record where and when you had reactions to look for commonalities in exposures. I keep a note on my iPhone of where it is safe to eat and places I need to avoid.
  • Keep non-latex gloves (vinyl or neoprene) in your car and bag/purse just in case of an emergency.
  • Tell people about your allergy so they know what is happening if you have an allergic reaction.
  • Train your loved ones and co-workers in how to use an Epi-pen.
  • Be planful but not fearful.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Colleen Jordan profile imageAUTHOR

      Colleen Jordan LMHC 

      4 years ago from Western Massachusetts

      Just a reminder/update to readers. After three and a half years of asking restaurants if they use latex gloves in food prep, I want to remind those with a serious allergy to keep asking! Every state has individual laws that impact what kind of gloves restaurant owner/managers purchase. I am happy to report that Massachusetts seems to be ahead of the curve, with increasingly less latex in kitchens. However, NYC seems geared toward latex gloves. (I called 11 restaurants in Times Square before I found one without latex gloves.)

      I always ask to see the box of gloves from the kitchen to confirm if they are latex, vinyl, polyvinyl, etc. When I read latex free on the box, then I feel safe. Sometimes restaurant employees don't know the difference between the plastics, simply saying they use "plastic" gloves, that is why I insist on seeing the box. I also stress that I don't mind if they are a "no glove" kitchen as sometimes they seem worried about that.

      Lastly, I make sure that they don't use multiple types of gloves in the kitchen. As stated in my article for my severe allergy, simply removing latex gloves for my order or switching to vinyl isn't enough. If there is a box of latex gloves, then there is airborne latex in the kitchen and I cannot eat at that restaurant. This is a point I find I have to stress over and over again.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)