Case Report

No Poinsettia this Christmas

Authors: Tripura Mantha Bala, MD, Mukta Panda, MD


Poinsettia is one of the most delightful decorations during the Christmas season. Natural rubber latex and poinsettia share some common allergen proteins. Hence, people with latex allergy may develop cross-reactivity with poinsettia. We report the case of a 50-year-old white female with a history of latex allergy, who developed a skin rash due to exposure to the poinsettia plant. The patient was admitted to the hospital for evaluation of near syncope. Her diagnostic workup was normal. She received a poinsettia plant from a friend during hospitalization. Because of her latex allergy, we carried out an extensive research of literature which revealed a cross-reactivity between latex allergy and poinsettia. The rash responded well to systemic antihistaminic treatment and removal of the plant from the room.

Key Points

* Latex allergy is a major health concern in the work place.

* Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) belongs to the same plant family as natural rubber latex (Hevea Brasiliensis). Thus, people with latex allergy have a tendency to develop cross-sensitivity with the poinsettia plant.

* There are two latex allergen proteins that are common to poinsettia and latex.

* The symptoms of latex allergy vary from immediate hypersensitivity (type I), allergic contact dermatitis (type IV), or irritant contact dermatitis.

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