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Definition

Latex allergy is actually an umbrella term used for a rangeof different allergic reactions commonly induced by natural rubber latex. Thereare five different types of hypersensitivity and latex is known for triggeringtwo out of those 5. There are people who are allergic to latex but are alsoallergic to other products which contain natural rubber latex and those mayinclude clothing, cars, balloons, baby bottle nipples, pacifiers, condoms,rubber gloves, elastic bands, shoes and so on. Statistically speaking, latexallergies affect less than 6 percent of general population.

Different Types of Latex Allergy

The less severe type of latex allergy is type IV delayedhypersensitivity which is also sometimes referred to as allergic contactdermatitis and T-cell mediated contact dermatitis. This type of allergicreaction involves the immune system and it accounts for 84 percent of allimmunologic responses to latex. Allergic contact dermatitis is commonly aresponse to the naturally occurring latex protein and to various differenttypes of chemical additives such as accelerators which are commonly used duringvarious manufacture processes. The result of this type of allergic reaction isobserved as a skin rash which resembles the one triggered by poison ivy. Therash appears a few hours after the exposure to the allergen and in some severe casesit may even involve oozing skin blisters. In most cases this allergic reactiondoes not involve the symptoms of severe Type I latex allergies. In order topinpoint the exact chemical which triggers this type of allergic reaction,patch testing needs to be conducted.

The most severe type of latex allergy isthe one called type I immediate hypersensitivity which is also sometimesreferred to as IgE mediated anaphylactic reaction. This type of allergic reactionoccurs when a certain type of antigen triggers the production of antibodiesfrom the immunoglobulin E class. Once the patient is exposed again to the antigen,the exposure leads to the release of prostaglandings, leukotrienes, arachidonicacid and histamine. These reactions commonly take place only a few minutesfollowing the exposure to the allergens. This type of allergic reaction is verydangerous since it can be life threatening in some cases. The symptoms of typeI immediate hypersensitivity may include shock, bronchospasm, swollen eyes,itchy eyes, runny nose, chest tightness, hoarse voice, cough, itching, hivesand skin redness. Those who need to betested for type I latex allergy need to conduct blood test such asradioallergosorbent test in order to determine which IgE protein triggers thereactions.

Latex allergies may also be associated with the medical conditionwhich is known as irritant contact dermatitis. This is the most common type ofallergic reaction which is commonly characterized by irritated, itchy and dryareas of the skin. The most commonly affected parts of the body are the patient’shands. This is not medicinally considered as a true type of allergy. There isalso another medical condition which is known as the latex-fruit syndrome. Itaffects people who have latex allergy but suffer from an allergic reaction whenthey consume soy, strawberries, passion fruit, mangoes, kiwi fruit, chestnut,avocado, pineapples and bananas. This is mainly due to the fact that all theaforementioned groceries may contain latex in significantly small amounts.

Those Who Are at Greater Risk

There are certain groups of people who are at a much greaterrisk of suffering from different types of latex allergies. Those who have hadmultiple surgical procedures are among those people. Different types of healthcare providers are also on the list of such people because they are constantlyexposed to various different sorts of medical supplies which contain latex.Industrial rubber workers are also at an increased risk of latex allergiesbecause they are constantly exposed to large amounts of latex allergies. The lastsubgroup of those who are at an increased risk of latex allergies are childrenwho suffer from a medical condition called Spina bifida.

Management

Those who suffer from type IV latex allergic reactions needto avoid exposure to irritating skin cleansers and all other substances whichare associated with allergens. In cases of hives and rashes it is highlyrecommended to use topical corticosteroids on the affected areas of the skin.In mild cases of type I latex allergic reactions, various different types ofantihistamines and topical nasal steroids can be of great help in alleviatingthe symptoms. If a person has hives, he or she needs to use antihistamines orsystemic steroids in order to alleviate the condition. If the allergic reactionaffects the airways then there is an even bigger choice of medicaments whichcan be used and those include epinephrine, endotracheal intubation,bronchodilators and systemic steroids. If a person suffers from anaphylaxis itis strongly advised to seek immediate medical attention which will be followedby a formal anaphylaxis protocol.

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