Rubber Latex Allergy


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It is estimated that over 6% of the U.K. population suffer from an allergy directly related to the proteins found in natural rubber latex. This has significant implications for the health care and scientific sector as latex gloves are one of the biggest causes of allergic contact dermatitis. When the skin or airways come into contact with rubber it causes the immune system to respond in much the same way it responds to hay fever or a peanut allergy.

Symptoms of a Latex Allergy

Symptoms can range from a small localised rash with itching and redness to a severe development of angry red blisters, respiratory distress and in some cases anaphylaxis. Most cases of allergic reactions to rubber latex are more itchy and uncomfortable rather than life threatening. Reactions can also occur if the latex dust absorbs up some of the rubber protein and it becomes airborne and makes its way into the airways. This can lead to rather severe breathing difficulties including wheezing and coughing and restricted airflow into the lungs. Reactions will vary from individual to individual and the allergic response will depend on the amount of protein that actually comes into contact with the system.

As with most allergies, some people are more likely than others to develop symptoms. For those unlucky enough to be predisposed to things like hay fever, asthma and eczema. The tricky thing with latex allergies is that the protein in rubber that causes the reaction also occurs naturally in some very unlikely products. For example avocados, some types of melon, bananas and even kiwi fruits can cause an allergic response in people with a latex allergy.

Consult your GP about your Latex Allergy

It is important to see your GP if you suspect you might be suffering from a latex allergy. You can then be referred to a specialist who can perform a series of allergy tests for you that will confirm the allergy. A plan of action can then be devised to help you minimise your symptoms, and also to help you become aware of the many different ways you might be exposed to the allergen in the latex.

The good news is that there are many different latex substitutes that can be used safely for those who suffer. Rubber latex glove manufacturers make a non latex glove substitute for use by medical and scientific workers. Female condoms can also be bought that have a latex substitute which will not prompt an allergic response. Various other products also have equivalent non latex substitutes. Included are things like rubbers, swimming goggles, clothing and footwear.


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