An allergy to NRL is different from an irritant rash or contact dermatitis, an allergy is a may include a rash, even a severe rash, but is also likely to include sneezing, watery eyes, swollen lips/throat, hives and possibly anaphylactic shock, which can cause death. Each time a person with a susceptibility is exposed to latex his or chance of developing an allergy increases and each time a person with a NRL allergy is exposed the reaction can become worse than the time before. Therefore limiting latex exposure in the first place can prevent allergies from developing and keep developed allergies from getting worse.
Individuals with congenital disabilities, like spina bifida (individuals with spina bifida are 40-60% more likely to be allergic to NRL), and healthcare workers are at the highest risk of developing an NRL allergy, because they have the highest exposure. Many hospitals and special education schools have eliminated latex gloves, but they are only one source of NRL.
NRL is also found in many adhesives like glues and tapes. Cling design packaging, like that for band-aids may contain latex. Many mobility aids, such as wheelchairs contain latex (in the tires and the cushions especially). Also some toys, such as Koosh balls have latex.
The Spina Bifida Association offers a list of latex free alternatives to products that may contain NRL (which includes toys and arts and craft materials) and the ALERT Foundation has an excellent list of latex free products with phone numbers. There is an article in Exceptional Parent that discusses latex allergy and lists NRL free toys and materials and the phone numbers for makers and distributors.
Here is a fun list I am calling, "Surprise, It's Latex!" All of these products most likely contain latex, see the ALERT list for more information.
- paste, glue, tape, rubber cement
- calculator and phone buttons
- some theraband
- koosh balls
- ball pits
- basketballs and playground balls
- tire swings
- mouse pads
- no slip foam on plates
- pencil grips
- baby bottle nipples
- elastic cords in fleece clothes
- tooth brushes and gum massagers
- rubber duckies
- old Barbies
- some dolls
- elastic in clothing
- smelly (like tires or rubber bands)