Many people experience mild allergic reactions to different types of allergens like pollen, certain drugs, chemicals, and among others. However, the continuous contact or periodic episodes of intense exposure to allergens result in more severe allergic symptoms over time. In the context of natural rubber latex, the prolonged exposure is associated with frequent use of various latex products by individuals either for personal care, household items or within different occupations ranging from clothing, gloves, erasers, rubber bands, condoms, etc.
- Long-term allergic effects of regular latex exposure
- Skin infections
- Respiratory infections
- Sinus infections
Allergic symptoms emanating from the regular use of latex products depends on the route of exposure:
- Contact with the skin: causes contact dermatitis characterized by swelling, itching, reddening/inflammation, and rashes of the skin
- Inhalation of latex fibers in the air: causes respiratory problems such as watery eyes, inflammation, and swelling of nasal passages, sneezing, congestion, breathing difficulties, or asthmatic attacks
Long-term Allergic Effects of Regular Latex Exposure
The persistence of regular latex exposure elevates the magnitude of allergic symptoms among latex-sensitive individuals over time. Subsequently, this leads to increased risks of long-term allergic complications accompanied by recurring skin allergies and infections spreading to other body parts and organs.
Skin Infection: Prolonged latex exposure to the skin may result in long-term contact dermatitis or neurodermatitis. This weakens the skin/dermal mechanical barrier to microorganisms; thus, posing risks for frequent or recurrent skin infections accompanied by allergic reactions.
Respiratory Infections: regular latex exposure may trigger long-term allergies that may increase the risks of respiratory infections such as bronchitis and asthma. For individuals sensitive to other allergens like mold spores, pollen, dust mites, and among others, prolonged latex exposure may cause long-term risks of lung infection, or aspergillosis.
Asthmatic people or those with cystic fibrosis may also succumb to severe allergic reaction upon inhalation in the long-term after prolonged latex exposure. The damages of lung tissues may also occur through which individuals experience chills, fever, breathing difficulties, coughing of blood. Among other severe long-term complications of prolonged latex exposure include life-threatening episodes of asthmatic attacks, with increased risks of developing pneumonitis, a chronic lung disease.
Sinus Infections: The frequent exposure to airborne latex allergens may escalate the long-term risks of allergies causing sinusitis or otitis side effects over time. Consequently, this may worsen the severity of symptoms for the untreated latex allergies, resulting in recurring episodes of fungus or bacterial ear and sinus infections, especially among individuals with weakened or compromised immune systems by frequent allergic reactions related to latex exposure.
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) (2017). Latex Allergy. Retrieved on 8th August, 2017 from www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/allergies/latex-allergy
American Latex Allergy Association (ALAA) (2017). Latex Allergy. Retrieved on 8th August, 2017 from latexallergyresources.org/about-latex-allergy
Clarke, N. (September, 2015). The Effects of Prolonged Allergy Exposure. Retrieved on 8th August, 2017 from www.livestrong.com/article/265913-the-effects-of-prolonged-allergy-exposure
Wetzky, U., & Wulfhorst, B. et al. (2009). Short- And Long-Term Effects of Single and Repetitive Glove Occlusion on the Epidermal Barrier. Archives of Dermatology Research, 301(8), pp 595–602 doi: doi.org/10.1007/s00403-009-0980-4