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Latex

What is Latex? Latex, a common ingredient used to make most rubber products, is a milky white sap that comes from the Brazilian rubber tree when the bark is cut. Products made with natural rubber latex, or liquid latex includes balloons, rubber bands, pacifiers, shoes and condoms. This strong, flexible material, effective in creating a barrier against bacteria, is also used to make surgical gloves. With millions of these products in circulation, particularly surgical gloves in medical facilities, more and more people, especially healthcare workers, are developing latex sensitivity and allergy.

Latex Allergy: Latex allergy symptoms are classified as delayed and immediate. Symptoms of delayed latex allergy – caused not by latex itself but by chemical allergens added to the rubber during manufacturing – include an itchy, red, mildly swollen rash on areas of the skin that came in contact with latex. This reaction typically occurs 10 to 30 hours after contact. Blisters may also appear in more severe cases.
Immediate reactions – caused by the proteins in the latex itself – occur within minutes of contact with latex and can involve areas of the body untouched by it. Examples include hives over any and all parts of the body, hay fever-like symptoms, including nasal blockage, sneezing, itching of the nose, eyes or roof of the mouth, wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath, and anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition causing swelling of the throat and blocked airways. It is important to note that gloves labeled "hypo-allergenic" rarely causes delayed allergic reactions but may cause immediate reactions.

Latex Allergy Treatment: If it's determined that you have a latex allergy or sensitivity, try and reduce your exposure and contact with this material as much as possible. While medications can relieve symptoms, nothing is available at this time that will prevent you from having an allergic reaction to latex. Tests and experiments are being conducted to determine the effectiveness of administering medicine before exposure to latex that could reduce the severity of a reaction.

Page last modified: 10/24/14
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