Allergic reactions to latex can range from skin redness and itching to more serious symptoms, such as hives or gastroitestinal problems. True allergic reactions to latex rarely progress to the life-threatening conditions such as low blood pressure, difficulty breathing or rapid heart rate.
However, if left untreated, these conditions could potentially result in death.
The three types of latex reactions are:
Irritant Contact Dermatitis
The least threatening type of latex reaction, classified as a non-allergenic skin reaction. It usually occurs as a result of repeated exposure to chemicals in latex gloves and results in dryness, itching, burning, scaling, and lesions of the skin. A red, crusty rash that stops at the wrist where the glove ends would fall under this category. This condition can be prevented by thorough, frequent moisturising and wearing a glove liner.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis
A delayed reaction to additives used in latex processing, which results in the same type of reactions as irritant contact dermatitis (dryness, itching, burning, scaling, and lesions of the skin), but the reaction is more severe, spreads to more parts of the body and lasts longer.
Immediate Allergic Reaction
(Latex Hypersensitivity). The most serious reaction to latex. It can show up as rhinitis with hay fever-like symptoms, conjunctivitis (pink eye), cramps, hives, and severe itching. —ie. red, itchy bumps sometimes associated with runny nose, red eyes and/or asthma—Rare and severe latex allergies can even result in shock. It is rare, but symptoms may progress to include rapid heartbeat, tremors, chest pain, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, anaphylactic shock, or potentially, death.
How to Avoid Latex Allergies?
- Latex allergies are often aggravated by powdered gloves which can carry latex proteins. Use non-powdered disposable gloves.
- Best solution: use non-latex glove protection such as Nitrile or Vinyl disposables.
- Read the warning on the packaging/catalog before ordering.