No Poinsettia this Christmas

Tripura Mantha Bala, MD; Mukta Panda, MD


South Med J. 2006;99(7):772-773. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

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.

Poinsettia, a native Mexican ornamental plant, is a very popular and delightful holiday plant. It is named after Colonel Joel Roberts Poinsett of the United States army. He was the first ambassador to Mexico and brought the plant to the United States.[1] It is the most common flowering potted plant sold in USA with over 70 million plants sold each year.

Latex is derived from rubber trees. Reactions to latex can be caused by allergic or nonallergic hypersensitivity. Symptoms of latex allergy include irritant contact dermatitis, which is of the nonimmune type. Immune type reactions include immediate hypersensitivity (type I) or delayed hypersensitivity (type IV).[2]

There is some cross-reactivity between the latex derived from the poinsettia plant and the natural rubber latex.[3] We are reporting a case of latex allergy and cross reactivity to poinsettia.


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