Latex Allergy at Work

Latex allergy is the result of a reaction in the presence of proteins found in latex made from natural rubber latex. This product is produced from different plant sources usually rubber tree. Latex allergy occurs when skin makes contact with latex or the person inhales an irritant or chemical. Allergic reactions start after only a few minutes of getting exposed to latex, but they can happen some hours after and can bring about different symptoms. Symptoms may include rashes on the skin, swelling, irritation to the respiratory tract, asthmatic symptoms, and in some incidences shock. Sometimes sensitized workers have had serious reactions that persons affected needed to leave their jobs.

Prevalence of latex allergy

Accounts of allergic reactions to latex in the workplace have grown these past few years, particularly among workers in healthcare facilities wherein latex gloves are always used to avoid contamination.  Millions of individuals work in the healthcare industry. When employees are sensitized they develop latex allergy. According to research studies, eight to twelve percent of healthcare workers exposed to this material are sensitized. Among the general public, there are only one to six percent who are sensitized. Employees at risk of this condition because of continual exposure to latex are doctors, nurses, nurse aides, dentists and assistants, technicians working in the laboratories of healthcare and research facilities, as well as workers tasked to do housekeeping.

People at increased risk of latex allergy

Individuals at increased risk for this condition are employees who are regularly exposed to latex, people who are prone to develop allergies, and those with spina bifida. This allergy is related as well to allergies to some foodstuff such as potatoes, avocados, strawberries, kiwi, and chestnuts, among others. Employees who do not make use of gloves often like police officers, firemen, people who look after gardens, food servers, workers at the funeral parlors, among others may also develop this type of allergy. Factory employees who use or are involved with making natural rubber latex items may also be affected.

Prevention of latex allergy

There are different ways to prevent latex energy. Make use of gloves that does not contain latex for activities that does not handle infectious stuff. When latex gloves are required as protection against infectious agents, choose the gloves without powder and less protein component to diminish possibility of developing allergy. Comply with proper practices at work to diminish any possibility of allergic reaction to latex. Avoid using hand lotions that are oil-based when using gloves. Use mild soap for hand washing and totally dry hands after gloves are removed. Always clean up areas and materials that may have been tainted with latex. Be aware of systems to prevent latex allergy. Determine ways to identify latex allergy symptoms such as hives, rashes, flushing, pruritus, symptoms observed in the eyes and nose, wheezing, and shock. Persons with this allergy may develop some of the symptoms, but not all. The extent of limitation will differ among various persons. Individuals with this allergy will require accommodations to do their jobs while others may only require some.