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What is a Latex Allergy?

Nitrile gloves are a common alternative to latex for medical professionals who develop an allergy.
Allergies may manifest as skin rashes.
Latex allergy symptoms, which can be triggered by items such as latex condoms, can cause wheezing, hives, tearing of the eyes, nasal congestion and rash.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2014
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Latex allergies are conditions in which the individual experiences a severe adverse reaction whenever coming in contact with a rubber latex product. An allergic reaction to latex can range from the development of a rash to situations where the function of one or more vital organs takes place. While medication can help in managing the symptoms associated with a latex allergy, avoiding exposure to latex items is normally the most effective way to deal with the health condition.

There are some people who are more likely to develop some type of latex allergy. In some cases, the risk is related to the workplace. This is particularly true for doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals who are in constant contact with latex gloves. Over time, exposure to the latex material may result in anything from itching for a short time after coming in contact with the latex to developing a severe reaction such as finding it difficult to breathe.

People who work in factories and other facilities that produce latex products can also develop an allergy to latex. The constant handling of the materials during the creation, inspection and packing phases may over time result in a low-grade allergic reaction that may manifest itself as a slight fever, itching skin or a rash on the hands and arms.

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Past health issues can also sometimes make the body more susceptible to the development of a latex allergy. People who developed some forms of spina bifida during childhood have a very good chance of developing a latex allergy. In like manner, people who have undergone a number of surgical procedures may find that over time they begin to experience an adverse reaction to any contact with latex products. This can be especially distressing, since the use of latex gloves during an operation could produce severe complications for the patient.

Fortunately, there are some alternatives that can help minimize the chances for an allergic reaction. Health care professionals can make use of disposable gloves composed of synthetic material blends that do not include any latex. People working in plants and other environments where latex is produced or used as part of the process can also wear protective gloves and long sleeved blouses to prevent the skin from coming into direct contact with any latex item.

For anyone who has a latex allergy, it is important to make sure health care providers are aware of the condition. This allows physicians to use non-latex gloves during an examination, as well as help the hospital staff to remove any latex items from the hospital room. Friends and coworkers should be advised of the allergy as well as the type of symptoms that are produced from the exposure. This will help those around you to provide emergency care workers with information about the severity of the allergic reaction if you are unable to do so.

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