If you are suffering from a latex allergy, you’ve heard a million times about the myriad of items you need to avoid in order to stay well. You’re very cautious in medical facilities, and you chose your household products, and even foods, very carefully. While you’ve fastidiously removed all latex from your home — what you might not know is that there are several very common houseplants known to cause reactions in those suffering from latex allergies. The following is a guide to the top three most common houseplants that could be agrivating your allergy.
1. Ficus: This is arguably the most common houseplant around. There so hardy and tolerant of indoor conditions that they decorate nearly every office building and shopping center in America. They’re also very popular in the home, and are also used frequently in landscaping. The problem with ficus species is that their leaves produce a sap which contains an allergenic protein that is very similar to the latex protein. Those sensitive to Latex may find that they are also sensitive to this sap.
2. Rubber tree: This plant is in the same family (mulberry) as the ficus. It’s actually called Ficus Elastica. This plant is very popular with allergy sufferers because it’s said to remove dust from the home by collecting it on its leaves. This plant’s close relative, the Brazilian Rubber Tree, is one of the more common sources of latex in manufacturing. Its sap, which hardens when drying, produces the rubbery substance that is processed to form gloves, balloons, condoms, etc. If you are allergic to latex, this plant is definitely a no-no in your home.
3. Poinsettia : These plants, also referred to as spurges, belong to the genus Euphorbia. Spurges are used in herbal therapies and Chinese medicine, but are perhaps best known to us through Poinsettias, a popular holiday decoration/gift. While there are dozens of sap-producing spurges, people who are sensitive to latex proteins most commonly find that they are irritated by poinsettias. Some find that being in the same room as a poinsettia for only a few minutes can cause a strong reaction, while others have only mild symptoms that they may not even associate with their latex allergy. If you have a rubber allergy, and you have not experienced respiratory complications from exposure, you may notice a few days later than an eczema-like rash develops.
Because it can take repeated exposure to latex for allergy symptoms to present, even if you do not suffer from latex allergy, be mindful of how you feel and check in with your family members from time to time if you have these plants in your home. If you do suffer from a latex allergy, you may not have to completely eradicate these plants from your home, especially if your allergy is mild. Sometimes the simple act of moving a plant away from heavy-traffic areas or putting it outdoors can make a huge difference in how you feel. Still, when in doubt, replacing one of these plants with a less allergenic version is probably the ideal choice.