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Latex

IMMEDIATE ALLERGIC REACTION TO LATEX

The raw natural latex (rubber), comes from the sap of the Hevea brasiliensis. Latex production occurs mainly in Southeast Asia. In the manufacture of soft latex (gloves, etc..), Surfactants and vulcanization accelerators are added, then the gloves are dipped in cornstarch (talc).The immediate allergy to latex is an IgE-mediated reaction against latex proteins, which can be very dangerous, even fatal (anaphylaxis).In the past fifteen years, there has been an increase in the incidence of latex allergies, which has now become a public health issue.This allergy concerns mainly:

  •      multi-operated patients (urogenital malformations, neurological)
  •      hospital and laboratory staff
  •      workers using rubber gloves (cleaners, supermarket staff)
  •      rubber factories staff
  •      latex is also found in balloons, condoms, baby pacifiers, milk bottles and baby toys.

Good to know: house plant “Ficus Benjamina”, which is easily found in our homes, has common allergens with latex and therefore represents a risk factor during prolonged exposure. It can cause rhinitis.SymptomsImmediate allergic reaction (mediated by specific IgE against latex proteins): caused either by direct contact with the skin/mouth with natural latex proteins, or by inhaling or swallowing latex proteins which are airborne by talc (corn starch is volatile and carries latex proteins).Symptoms occur within minutes after exposure and range from rhinosinusitis, conjunctivitis, asthma, urticaria, angioedema, to anaphylactic reaction. Systemic reactions during surgical, dental or gynecological examinations (wearing latex gloves) can be fatal. Also be wary reactions to condoms or balloons.Good quality latex (e.g. condoms) releases less protein. It is thus less allergenic. Hard latex is hardly allergenic at all.

Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) fruit-latex

This is a crossed (fruit-latex) oral allergy syndrome with pruritus, urticaria, local angioedema, which may be complicated by systemic symptoms.Symptoms occur when certain fruits are in contact with the oral mucous membrane.Fruits implicated are : avocado, banana, kiwi, chestnut, pineapple, fig, etc. This list is lengthening daily. Indeed, these fruits contain proteins which have identical structure to latex proteins. 

Delayed reaction or contact allergy to latex

This is essentially a contact dermatitis, occurring usually several days after re-exposure to objects in latex. It is caused mainly by agents added to the latex (surfactants, accelerators, etc. …).We are not talking here of an immediate allergy to latex proteins, and consequently the reactions are not dangerous, but they can be very annoying. Diagnosis is made by skin patch tests with various substances mentioned.Hands are generally involved.

How to treat immediate allergy to latex

Treatment of OAS latex-fruits

Treatment of eczema (delayed allergy) to latex

Basically, treatment consists in avoiding latex (especially gloves) and to follow the medication prescribed by your allergist to keep the dermatitis in check:

  • Avoid contact with latex (vinyl gloves)
  • Keep hands well hydrated
  • If necessary topic corticoids will be prescribed

Professionals

Allergy to latex (immediate or delayed) must be declared to the medical and/or accident insurance by the employer, followed by a declaration of unfitness or disability. If exposure in the workplace cannot be avoided, retraining assistance should be provided.

 

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