Latex Allergy Overview: What is a Latex Allergy?
Latex is a milky sap that comes from the tropical Hevea tree. A latex allergy is the adverse immunity response to the proteins in the latex. One to five percent of people in the United States have some form of allergic to latex.
Health care workers have a higher prevalence of two to seventeen percent. Experts believe that this is because of the amount of exposure health care worker have to latex.
Latex allergy can be very serious. It is found in many household items such as gloves, band aids, condoms, balloons, sanitary pads, bottle nipples, and rubber bands.
Latex gloves, and other devices made from latex are often used in medical settings but, because of the growing problems with latex, many hospitals are switching to more latex free options.
List of Allergy Symptoms
- Contact dermatitis- a rash at the point of contact with the latex. This is the most common symptom.
- Asthma- from particles in the air from powdered gloves and balloons in an enclosed area.
- Other symptoms- itchy watery eyes, coughing, facial swelling, anaphylactic shock
Latex Allergy Treatments
It is important that if you suspect that you have allergic reaction to latex that you should see your doctor and get tested.
The best treatment for latex allergies is avoidance. If your allergy is very severe it may be advisable to get a medical alert bracelet to prevent possible contact with latex in a medical setting. It may also be a good idea to carry an epi-pen for emergencies.
Preventing Latex Allergy
Most experts agree that repeated exposure to latex is the probable cause of the allergy. Take these steps to avoid getting a latex allergy.
- Avoid using latex gloves whenever possible.
- Do not apply lotion before using latex gloves.
- Use powder free latex gloves with low protein content.
- After using latex gloves, wash your hands.
- Learn to recognize early symptoms of latex allergy such as rash and asthma.