Latex Allergies - Many Home And Hospice Care Staff Members Are Affected With Latex Allergies

Latex gloves and other latex rubber objects, contain natural latex. These types of gloves are often added with cornstarch powder to reduce friction, like when a surgeon dons the glove and many other chemicals. It is essential to remember that anything that is foreign to the body can cause an allergic reaction depending on the gravity of the human body's response to it. The human body can react in different ways. In general, there would be very little to no reaction at all. However when a person is allergic to the latex, in a glove for example, there are three major possible reactions.

The least dangerous of these latex materials is a reaction that is contained locally, called Irritant Dermatitis. This is when the latex causes an acute irritation in the skin in contact to it but does not involve the systemic immune response of the body. This is not considered to be an allergic response; however, irritant hand dermatitis causes breaks in the skin integrity which could permit a lot more of the sensitizing latex proteins or chemicals to enter inside the body. This condition could turn an uncomplicated dermatitis into a full blown latex allergy. Irritant Dermatitis also could be caused by insufficient drying after washing the hands, scrubbing the skin too hard or using very strong detergents, the mechanical abrasion sometimes caused by the glove powder, or anything that could dry the skin and encourage cracks and cuts in it.

The second reaction that the human body could have is the Delayed Cutaneous Hypersensitivity or the Type IV Allergy. This skin reaction is still local, limited to the skin exposed to the allergen and mediated by the T-cell lymphocytes. The threat of latex, again, is when the skin breaks and permits the entry of more of the allergen. The discrepancy of this skin reaction is that the signs of the reaction are seen 6 to 48 hours after exposure. The third possible skin reaction of the body is the Type I Allergy. It is considerably a systemic allergic reaction and its symptoms occur almost immediately or half an hour after exposure to latex. The skin irritation is caused by the Immunoglobulin E antibodies that are definite to the proteins found in natural latex.

A person can be exposed to latex products through different routes like mucus membranes (nose, mouth), cutaneous, (skin), aerosol (inhalation), or parenteral (blood). The symptoms of irritation could range from a not-so-serious case of rhinitis or conjunctivitis to hives and asthma brought about by bronchoconstriction. It is when these skin irritation symptoms are full-blown than they become fatal like cases of hypotension and anaphylaxis. In the use of surgical latex gloves, it is not only the latex that is the issue. The common use of cornstarch powder, which has been a staple in glove manufacturing to reduce friction, also plays a major role in the allergies caused by latex gloves. Research has revealed that the cornstarch powder binds with the latex proteins in the gloves. This combination allows the antigen in the gloves to reach the wearer's skin especially when the skin becomes moist and, ultimately, the patient the person is in contact with.