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Latex Allergies

Latex Allergies are very real. The people who are allergic to latex will tell you so very fast. It causes an unpleasant rash around the affected area.

Latex is a milky fluid that comes from the tropical rubber tree. Hundreds of everyday products contain latex. Repeated exposure to a protein in natural latex can make you more likely to develop a latex allergy. If your immune system detects the protein, a reaction can start in minutes. You could get a rash, asthma and in rare cases shock from latex exposure.

Latex products are made either by pouring the rubber into molds or by forming a coating in a dipped process, as is done with gloves, balloons and condoms. Dipped, or very soft, rubber products appear to have the highest content of latex proteins and, therefore, have the greatest allergenic potential.

Types Of Latex Allergies

  • Type I is the least common. It is an immediate reaction response similar to the severe reaction a person can have to a bee sting (symptoms can include flushing, itching, swelling, nausea, vomiting and nasal congestion). This life threatening type of reaction may affect the person wearing latex gloves or the person being examined.
  • Type IV is the second and most common type. It is a delayed reaction at a cellular level. It is usually a response to the chemicals used in the manufacturing process. This reaction is similar to that of poison oak or poison ivy (symptoms can include debilitating rashes, itching and cracking of the hands or body parts in contact with the rubber).
  • Irritant Contact Dermatitis Unlike the immediate and delayed responses previously discussed, it is not an allergic type involving the immune system. The chemicals used in the production of the latex products, such as powder in the latex gloves, can produce symptoms very similar to that of the delayed reaction. This should not, however, be confused with an allergic response. Manufacturers must work closely with the consumers to minimize the amounts of irritating additives used in their products.

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