Allergic reactions to rubber condoms

Genitourin Med. 1989 Jun;65(3):194-5. doi: 10.1136/sti.65.3.194.


With the increased use of condoms, contact dermatitis to rubber is being seen more often. To develop a rubber condom suitable for use by rubber sensitive people, a "hypoallergenic" condom, which is washed in ammonia to reduce the residues of rubber accelerators, has been manufactured. Fifty patients allergic to various rubber accelerators were patch tested with an ordinary condom and the new washed condom. Fifty patients undergoing routine patch test investigation who were not allergic to rubber were also tested as controls. Twenty two of the rubber sensitive patients had a positive reaction to the new rubber condom compared with four of the control patients. Washing rubber condoms in ammonia does not appear to reduce the residues of rubber accelerators sufficiently for their use by rubber sensitive people. A non-allergenic condom is required.

PIP: Contact dermatitis to rubber is more common with increased use of condoms, due to the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). A condom has been produced which is washed in ammonia to reduce the residues of rubber accelerators for use by people sensitive to rubber. Testing done on rubber sensitive people indicate that 44% of them reacted to the washed condom and therefore would be unable to use them as well. Contact dermatitis to rubber is a well established clinical problem; 5- 10% of all patients are allergic to rubber compounds including gloves and footwear. There may be many unreported cases because the doctor has not considered this, or the patient was too embarrassed to inform the doctor. Washing the condom in these solutions reduces the shelf life of the product from 5 years to 18 months. Condoms made of sheep gut made in the US can be used by rubber sensitive patients, and also polyurethane condoms made in Denmark are available. There is a need for more development of non-rubber or non-allergenic condoms.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Contraceptive Devices, Male / adverse effects*
  • Dermatitis, Contact / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patch Tests
  • Rubber / adverse effects*


  • Rubber