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How to deal with latex allergy

Latex allergy is a reaction to a protein present in natural rubber latex which is a product from the milky fluid of rubber trees. If an individual has latex allergy, the body reacts to latex as a harmful substance. This allergy causes reactions such as irritation on skin or even anaphylaxis which is a severe reaction. Those who are allergic to latex react to products made out of thin and stretchy latex such as those found in disposable gloves, balloons and condoms.

Powdered latex gloves can cause allergy due to proteins that sticks to the powder and when the gloves are removed, particles of the powder spreads into the air. Once these are inhaled, they come in contact with the bodily membranes.

Latex allergy can cause irritant contact dermatitis.  Anybody can develop latex allergy but those who work in the healthcare and rubber industry are more susceptible. Health workers suffering from hay fever, urologic abnormalities, undergone surgeries and with spina bifida are also susceptible to latex allergy.

  • Irritant contact dermatitis causes itchy, dry and irritated areas of the skin and usually the hands are affected due to using gloves.
  • Allergic contact dermatitis which is also known as delayed hypersensitivity or chemical sensitivity dermatitis causes rashes comparable to poison ivy. It is due to exposure to the chemicals that is combined with latex during collecting, processing and manufacturing.

Symptoms of latex allergy

  • Development of hives
  • Redness of the skin
  • Itchiness
  • Runny nose
  • Scratchy throat
    Latex allergy

    Latex allergy can cause irritant contact dermatitis.

  • Itchy eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Development of asthma or coughing spells, breathing difficulties and wheezing

Treatment

  • Avoid direct contact with latex.
  • Use hypoallergenic gloves to lessen the reactions to chemicals found in latex that causes allergic contact dermatitis.
  • Use powder-free gloves with reduced protein content.
  • Avoid areas where there is a high risk of inhaling the powder from latex gloves.
  • If there is a need to wear gloves, substitute latex gloves with gloves made out of vinyl or nitrile. Wear synthetic gloves that do not contain natural latex.
  • The individual should wear or carry a medical ID bracelet
  • Use a salcura spray that contains aloe vera, sunflower oil and sandalwood oil to lessen the symptoms.
  • Avoid eating foods that have similar protein structures with the latex protein such as bananas, figs, cherries, avocados, kiwis, pineapples, melons, papayas, grapes, tomatoes, strawberries, plums and celery.
  • Avoid other cross-reactive foods such as legumes, tree nuts, cashews, almonds, hazel nuts, peanuts and walnuts, grains such as wheat and rye and shellfish including lobster, crab and shrimp. Seek medical help immediately if there is a reaction in any of these foods.

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