Latex Allergy A Common Problem Among Healthcare Workers

by : rsbombard

In 1970s, latex allergy developed. Latex material is obtained from the rubber tree sap and is utilized by various companies in their products. The body's reaction to foreign substance is allergy. Latex allergy is a reaction that occurs from natural rubber containing latex.

People using latex gloves and manufacturers of products containing latex or medical products containing latex are at higher risk of developing allergy.

Signs of Latex Allergy
You may develop swelling or itching from using rubber gloves or after medical examination. Itching in the throat after having a banana, avocado, or chestnuts may also be the reason for latex allergy. Itching or swelling after dental examination, runny nose, wheezing, confusion, fainting, hives, rapid breathing, sneezing, and anxiety are some other symptoms of latex allergy.

Latex Reaction Types
Contact Dermatitis A common symptom that causes rash on the body part in contact with the latex. This reaction develops due to use of sanitizers, cleaners, repeated washing and drying of hands, and not completely drying the hands and powdered gloves. This causes itching, dryness, and irritation in the areas of contact with latex products.

Type IV Delayed Hypersensitivity (Chemical Sensitivity)Develops due to the addition of chemicals to latex during processing, harvesting, and manufacturing. Latex products use emulsifiers, accelerators, coagulants, and stabilizers that cause skin reactions similar to poison ivy. The rash develops within 24-48 hours after contact and either takes the form of blister or spreads over other body areas. Contact urticaria represents transitional stage between hypersensitivity and dermatitis. Initially, you may develop delayed contact dermatitis followed by urticaria and then systemic hypersensitivity.

Type I Immediate Hypersensitivity Type I is immunoglobulin (IgE) antibody reaction due to latex protein. The reaction causes urticaria, rhinitis, asthma, anaphylaxis, bronchospasm and conjunctivitis. Even low-level exposure can be the triggering cause of allergy in sensitive people. It is essential to recognize the type I reactions immediately as anaphylaxis is life threatening symptom.

Latex Allergy Treatment
Patch testing is done for contact dermatitis and changing gloves can solve the problem. To effectively treat contact dermatitis, surgeons or healthcare practitioners use glove liner made from DemithaneTM. Avoiding latex exposure is the only treatment option available for type I reactions. It is essential to place people suffering from asthma, food allergy, and topy in a latex safe environment, which is easy to create by utilizing powder free gloves in hospitals to avoid aerosolizing problem of latex proteins.

Hence, it is essential to recognize and treat the symptoms at an early stage before they becomes life threatening.