Rubber Latex Allergy
Allergy to the chemicals used to process rubber produces a skin allergy/reaction similar to eczema which is known as Allergic Contact Dermatitis. This is seen less commonly than irritant contact dermatitis and tends to be more florid, producing blistering and weeping as well as redness and itching. It progresses to dryness and scaling as it heals. It is caused by a Type 4 delayed immunological reaction. This type of reaction is not life threatening although it is extremely itchy and uncomfortable.
In the last fifteen years, we have seen an increasing number of immediate allergic reactions occurring very soon after contact with latex, due to allergy to the protein content of natural rubber, known as rubber latex.
Rubber Latex Allergy: This type of allergic reaction is the same type that occurs in hay fever, allergic asthma and peanut allergy. It can vary in severity from a mild nettle-rash on contact, to severe anaphylaxis with respiratory symptoms and collapse. It is potentially fatal but deaths are fortunately very uncommon. Unlike the Type 4 reaction, it is not delayed and can occur within minutes of contact. This immediate type of reaction is caused by the production of allergic antibody known as IgE. We know that more than 6% of the general population have now developed allergic antibody to natural rubber latex protein and that approximately 10% of health personnel, who are occupationally exposed to rubber gloves and other rubber articles have been found to suffer symptoms on contact.