Latex is a natural substance found in numerous plants, yet particularly a tree, Hevea brasiliensis (Hev b), also known as rubber tree. Latex is transformed into various items using two methods: 90% of latex is coagulated for transformation into certain rubber products, for example, tires and rubber soled shoes; and 10% of latex is processed with chemical products. It is then used in casts and molds to make diverse products like rubber bands and gloves. Latex sensitivity is a therapeutic term encompassing a range of unfavorably susceptible responses to the proteins present in natural rubber latex. It generally develops after repeated exposure to the products containing natural rubber latex. When latex-containing medical devices or supplies interact with mucous membrane, the membrane may absorb latex proteins. The immune system of some vulnerable people produces antibodies that respond immunologically with these antigenic proteins. As many products contain or are produced using natural rubber, including shoe soles, elastic bands, rubber gloves, condoms, baby bottle nipples and balloons, there are numerous possible routes of exposure that may trigger a response. Roughly half of individuals with latex sensitivity have a background marked by another kind of hypersensitivity. Certain fruits and vegetables, for example, bananas, kiwi, avocado and tomato can cause hypersensitive symptoms in some latex-sensitive people.
Allergic responses to latex ranges from mild to extremely serious. There are three various types of allergic responses to latex, in spite of the fact that they do overlap to a specific degree. These include:
Immediate type latex allergy– Immediate unfavorably susceptible responses (otherwise called Type 1 or IgE mediated) are the most serious allergic responses to latex. The general population who are sensitive to normal latex proteins, when they interacts with latex, their immune system discharges the histamine into the tissues. The manifestations include hives, rhino conjunctivitis or asthma, or anaphylaxis. Some individuals will develop allergic reaction after wearing a condom, inserting a diaphragm for contraceptive purposes or after visiting the dentist or hairdressers and coming into contact with latex. Reactions can also occur when latex is breathed in, bringing about allergic rhinitis (hay fever) or asthma like symptoms. Anaphylaxis is the most serious allergic response to latex and commonly happens in extremely sensitive patients where latex protein is being absorbed rapidly via moist surfaces, for example, the mouth, nose, throat, vagina, rectum or internally(during a surgical operation). Severe difficulty in breathing, a drop in blood pressure and anaphylactic shock may occur. Anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock, is a crisis and can be lethal.
Allergic contact dermatitis: Type IV hypersensitivity, also called as allergic contact dermatitis. It is usually because of a provocative response to the chemicals added to rubber during fabrication. Allergic contact dermatitis is irritating however not dangerous. It happens 1-4 days after exposure to latex. The manifestations seem to be like irritant dermatitis, yet the cause is different. The rash is rough, dry and flaky, sometimes with sobbing wounds.
Irritant contact dermatitis: Natural rubber latex can also cause irritant contact dermatitis, a less severe type of reaction that does not involve the immune system. Irritant dermatitis is often a beginning stage for the development of latex sensitivity. It results in rough, dry and flaky skin, sometimes with sobbing injuries. It is aggravated by sweating and friction under rubber gloves, however can also occurs from incessant hand washing with harsh soaps. Despite the fact that irritation contact dermatitis isn’t an allergic reaction, absorption of latex through damaged skin increases the risk of developing latex sensitivity with continuous exposure. Numerous individuals who consistently wear latex gloves gripe of red, dry and aggravated skin. Without specifically having a sensitivity to latex, these individuals will probably have an irritant skin eruption because of contact with powder from the gloves and frequent hand washing.
Latex-fruit syndrome: People who have latex hypersensitivity additionally may have or build up an allergic response to a few plants as well as products of these plants, for example, fruits. This is known as the latex-fruit syndrome. Fruits (and seeds) engaged with this syndrome includes banana, pineapple, avocado, chestnut, kiwi, fruit, mango, fig, strawberry, papaya, apple, melon, celery, potato, tomato, carrot, and soy. A few, however not all these natural products contain a form of latex.
Certain individuals are at increased risk of developing latex hypersensitivity includes health care specialists, (for example, doctors, attendants and dental specialists) who are regularly exposed to latex through medicinal equipments like gloves. Other individuals who are at more risk includes:
- A deformity in their bone marrow cells
- Children with spina bifida( up to 68% will have a reaction)
- A deformed bladder or urinary tract
- Had multiple surgeries, particularly in adolescence
- A urinary catheter, which has rubber tip
- Allergy, asthma, or dermatitis
- Food hypersensitivities to bananas, avocados, kiwis, or chestnuts
You can get exposed to latex:
- Through the skin, for example, when you wear latex gloves
- Through mucous layers, for example, eyes, mouth, vagina, and rectum
- Through inhalation. Rubber gloves contain a powder that can be breathed in.
- Through the blood. This can happen when some therapeutic gadgets containing rubber are used.
If you think you might be oversensitive to latex, visit an allergist/immunologist. Your allergist will take a thorough health history and after that some tests are done to decide whether you have latex hypersensitivity. Skin prick tests or blood tests are the most well-known methods to help affirm the presence of sensitivity to latex proteins or chemical preservatives. Antibodies (Immunoglobulin type E or IgE) against latex are found in the blood of individuals with latex sensitivity. These can be measured in a blood sample by a test called a specific IgE . This test is organized by the specialist. Skin prick testing is another approach to affirm the diagnosis of latex hypersensitivity. This test is done by a dermatologist or an allergy specialist. It includes puncturing the skin with a small needle (the ‘skin prick’) through a drop of latex solution. If an itchy swelling or ‘wheal’ develops, this usually indicates sensitivity. The test takes 15-20 minutes. There is a little possibility of trigerring a serious hypersensitive response with skin prick testing, so it should only be done by a fully trained professional who has resuscitation equipment. The test isn’t reliable if antihistamines have been taken.
If somebody has symptoms which are exceptionally suggestive of latex hypersensitivity, yet they have a negative skin prick test and antibody test, they may require further tests, for example, a latex challenge. Here a latex product is used, (for example, putting on a glove) and assessing the response. Due to the fact that earlier tests are negative, the possibility of severe reaction here is very low.
If you are allergic to latex, you should:
- Try to avoid latex in all its forms. Latex substitutes can be used whenever required.
- Avoid latex containing condoms and diaphragms used for contraception. Use latex free condoms which are easily available in stores .
- Wear a medical identification bracelet, stating you are oversensitive to latex.
- Tell your doctors to not to use any latex containing product while undergoing any dental treatment, blood tests or any other treatment .
- If it is important to wear gloves, utilize vinyl or synthetic rubber gloves.
- Avoid takeaway food which is arranged or served by food handlers wearing latex gloves.
- Consider staying away from occupations where latex is exceptionally hard to dodge, for example, nursing, dentistry, medication, veterinary .
The treatment of latex sensitivities include: Mild allergic responses, for example, localized irritation of the skin under gloves ought to be managed by removing the glove/latex item, rinsing in cool water and taking an antihistamine tablet. If you have asthma, hold this sensitivity under great control by using inhalers as recommended and carry your inhalers when you go out for use in an emergency. Holding your asthma under great control may reduce the effect of an allergic reaction. In case of a serious hypersensitive response (throat swelling, trouble breathing with a hoarse voice), use the adrenaline auto-injector. It is essential to always carry it. Ensure that you know how to use it and also tell others how to use it (companions, family, instructors and work associates) and where to find it in an emergency. Store precisely and check the expiry date.
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