Latex Allergy

Latex allergy
Latex is a natural product which comes from a fluid that is extracted from the rubber tree found in Africa and South East Asia. Latex allergy is the range of allergic reactions to the proteins present in natural rubber latex. Latex allergy develops after repeated exposure to products containing natural rubber latex. Persons with latex allergy may also have allergic reactions to some fruits (Latex-Fruit syndrome)
Rubber gloves are the main source of allergic reaction. The list of products which may have latex in them include:
• Band-aids
• Balloons
• Blood pressure cuffs
• Bottle nipples
• Condoms
• Catheters
• Dental items like dams and orthodontic rubber bands
• Diaphragms
• Erasers
• Rubber gloves
• Helmets
• IV tubes
• Elastic waistband and in pants and underwear
• Pacifiers
• Rubber bands
• Rubber cements
• Rugs and bathmats
• Shoes
• Surgical gloves
• Teething toys
• Ventilator tubings
Natural rubber latex causes type I and type IV hypersensitivity reactions as well as irritant contact dermatitis
Type I
• It is most serious and rare form of latex allergy
• It is an immediate and potentially life threatening IgE mediated reaction
• Symptoms include
o Rhinitis
o Conjunctivitis
o Irritation
o Severe itching
o Cramps
o Gastrointestinal problems
• Symptoms may progress to
o Tachycardia
o Tremors
o Chest pain
o Difficulty breathing
o Hypotension
Type IV
• Also called as allergic contact dermatitis
• It causes delayed skin rashes
• Signs and symptoms include:
o Scaling
o Burning
o Blistering
o Oozing
• It can be diagnosed through a positive skin prick test, although a negative test does not rule out latex allergy
Irritant contact dermatitis
• It is the most common and less severe form of reaction which does not involve the immune system
• It causes dry, itchy, irritated areas on the skin,
• Burning and scaling lesions of the skin are most often located on the hands
• The skin becomes irritated after using gloves, frequent hand washing, incomplete drying, and exposure to hand sanitizers, as well as the talcum powder substance that gloves are coated in  
• Latex glove induced dermatitis increases the chance of hospital acquired infections, including blood borne infections, being transmitted
Estimated prevalence of latex allergy in general population ranges from 0.8% to 8.2%. Those at greater risk include
• Healthcare provider: between 4-17% of healthcare worker have a reaction, usually present as irritant contact dermatitis and can develop anaphylactic shock.
• Patients who have had multiple surgical procedures, especially in childhood
• Children with Spina Bifida: up to 68% will have reaction
• Industrial rubber workers: about 10% have allergic reaction
• People with a defect in their bone marrow cells
• Those with eczema
• Individuals affected with asthma
• Patients with allergy to plant foods like mango, kiwi, avocado, pineapple, banana, chestnuts, strawberry, and passion fruit.
• People who work in car tyre factories
• Condom users
Latex Fruit Syndrome
• Some people with latex allergy may have allergic response to number of fruits like
o Banana
o Pineapple
o Avocado
o Chestnut
o Kiwi fruit
o Mango
o Passionfruit
o Strawberry
o Soy
• There is no treatment available to desensitize a person who is allergic to latex.
• Allergic reaction is treated with anthistamines, adrenaline and steroids
• Reduce the exposure to latex products
• Use alternatives like
o Synthetic rubber such as elastane, neoprene and artificially synthesized polyisoprene latex
o Products made of guayule natural rubber emulsions
o Chemical treatment with Vytex which reduce the exposure to latex allergen while otherwise retaining the properties of natural rubber
• Use powder free latex gloves
• Persons are advised to wear a medical alert bracelet