Natural rubber latex (NRL) is a milky fluid obtained from the Hevea brasiliensis tree, which is widely grown in South East Asia, and other countries. NRL is an integral part of thousands of everyday consumer and healthcare items.
As with many other natural products, NRL contains proteins to which some individuals may develop an allergy.
NRL is a widely-used and cost-effective material, which for the majority of the population is not a clinical risk. Because it is strong, flexible, elastic, hard-wearing and protective, NRL is used in many thousands of medical and consumer products. Labelling of NRL content in these products is, however, generally poor.
Gloves are the single most widely used device containing NRL. We have provided some detailed information about glove selection and glove materials in these pages. There is also information about other NRL-free daily products, including flu vaccinations.
Also see our Factsheet: Latex allergy: the facts for more information.