This types of allergy is as a result of repeated exposure to rubber latex, this usually occurs when the mucous membranes absorb latex proteins. Some other people have allergic reactions by breathing in latex fibers in the air. While others have allergic reactions from skin contact. The symptoms observed due to this allergy varies as the usage of a latex. Some include redness, itches and swells
- What is latex
- What causes latex allergies
- Who is at risk
- Diagnosis and prevention
What is Latex?
Latex is a natural milky sap produced by rubber trees, which is industrially blended with chemicals to offer its elastic characteristic. Typically, latex has increasingly been used to process various useful products to improve the quality of our lives ranging from rubber bands, gloves, balloons, condoms, erasers, to clothing. Despite the proven benefits to the society, latex may cause significant harm to some people due to allergic reactions when exposed to latex products.
What Causes Latex Allergies?
The allergic reactions arise as a result of an antibody-antigen immune response of your body immune system towards latex as an allergen (antigen). You can allergic reactions through:
- Skin contact with latex
- Inhalation of latex fibers in the air
Who is at Risk?
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI), latex allergy is a rare condition affecting less than 1% of US people. However, it is common among certain high-risk groups that include:
- People who are regularly exposed to various latex products such as latex toys, balloons, adhesive bandages, and clothing. About 8-17 percent of healthcare providers, individuals who have undergone multiple surgeries and other frequent users of latex gloves are predisposed to high risks of latex allergies.
- Children with congenital birth disorders such as spina bifida
- Approximately 50% of people who suffer from other types of allergies are latex-sensitive; including certain foods, dust mites, insect stings, pollen, animal dander, certain drugs/medications, and among others.
The most common symptoms of latex allergies include:
- Swelling, itching, reddening and inflammation of the skin
- Watery eyes, inflammation, and swelling of nasal passages
- Sneezing, congestion, breathing difficulties, or asthmatic attacks
The magnitude of allergic symptoms to latex range from mild to severe cases, but may worsen to a life-threatening allergic reaction in cases of anaphylaxis following chronic exposure.
Diagnosis and Prevention
If you suffer from any of the above allergic symptoms, seeking immediate medical attention from a qualified immunologist or allergist is critical. Proper diagnosis using skin or blood tests may be carried out to help to determine whether you are latex-sensitive or not. There exists no known cure for latex allergies using medications. If diagnostic results confirm that you are allergic to latex, the following are a number of prevention measures to avoid exposure and relief the severity of the associated latex allergic symptoms.
- Avoiding exposure to or using latex products such as clothing, gloves, and bandages
- Ensure that you only purchase and use latex-free products by confirming the labels from manufacturers
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) (2017). Latex Allergy. Retrieved on 12 July, 2017b from www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/allergies/latex-allergy
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) (2014). Latex Allergy: Overview. Retrieved on 12 July, 2017 from acaai.org/allergies/types/skin-allergies/latex-allergy
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) (2015). Latex Allergy. Retrieved on 13 July, 2017 from www.aafa.org/page/latex-allergy.aspx