Latex Allergy: Can it be totally avoided?
Latex allergy has been an increasingly common problem among individuals. It is an allergic reaction to the proteins in natural rubber latex, and some people may be more susceptible to it than others. Like any allergy, the more a person is exposed, the more he is at risk of developing an allergic reaction to the substance. In a latex allergy, the immune system identifies latex as a harmful substance and triggers certain antibodies to fight the allergen. When people with latex allergy come into direct contact with it, the antibodies in the body signal the immune system to release histamine and other chemicals into the bloodstream, producing a range of signs and symptoms.
Common triggers of allergic reaction include:
- Undergoing a medical or dental procedure performed by health care workers using latex gloves
- Inflating a rubber balloon
- "Hidden" latex on food from restaurants that use latex gloves
- Exposure to clothing or other personal effects that contain latex
- Wearing undergarments that contain latex in their elastic waistband, straps or leg openings.
The severity of reaction may worsen depending on the frequency of exposure to the substance and the extremity of the skin’s natural intolerance to latex. Repeated exposures may lead to more serious reactions. Some of the symptoms are itching, redness and swelling of skin that come in contact with the latex-laden material.
Since the exact causes of developing this type of sensitivity is not yet established, it is highly recommended to be cautious when handling materials containing latex. Early recognition of symptoms, reduced exposure to latex, and medical consultation are most vital in preventing detrimental health effects. Once a person is diagnosed with latex allergy, special precautions must be taken. Although there are medications available in the market to mitigate the symptoms, total latex avoidance, however difficult, is the most efficient method.