• Dr Suzie

The Hidden Allergy Hazard in Medical Workplaces (you might not even know about!)


Think wearing gloves is protecting you and saving lives?


Think again.


Allergic disease is increasing faster than we can manage it safely! Could you unknowingly be putting yourself and others at risk....just by wearing gloves, everyday?


That's right! Do you wear LATEX gloves?


If you do, then I urge you to take 2 minutes for a relevant check on your workplace practices. First, try answer the following questions and discover for yourself the hidden allergy hazard of latex gloves. It won't hurt you to get a little latex-educated.


1. HEALTH CARE WORKERS HAVE THE HIGHEST RISK OF DEVELOPING LATEX ALLERGY? True or False.

True. While being the allergic-type (atopy) or having existing dermatitis are important risk factors, the biggest risk factor for sensitisation to latex is actually just regularly wearing latex gloves.

The good news is there is evidence that Latex allergic individuals, once they reduce their exposure (and I'll show you how) can lose their sensitivity to latex. [1, 2].


2. LATEX GLOVES CAN CAUSE ASTHMA ATTACKS? True or False.

True. Inhalational exposure may occur when aerosolized glove powder coated with Latex allergens comes into contact with the mucous membranes of the nose, throat, and airways of the lung [3]. This Type 1 Hypersensitivity Reaction is igE mediated and occurs within minutes of exposure causing allergic rhino-conjunctivitis (itchy + runny nose and eyes) asthma (coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath), urticaria (itchy rashes) and even anaphylaxis (yes, people can die too). 


3. PEOPLE WITH LATEX ALLERGY ALSO CAN HAVE ALLERGIES TO FRUIT? True or False.

People with latex allergy also have allergies to fruit? True. This association occurs. I remember how impressed I was when my colleague picked up on a Latex-Fruit allergy just by the unusual collection of fruit intolerances a patient complained about. A protein cross-reactivity means latex allergy can be associated with certain food allergies with sensitisation to foods, such as kiwi, banana, chestnut, avocado, apple, potato, tomato, and papaya being reported 


4. THE MOST COMMON FORM OF LATEX ALLERGY IS ANAPHYLAXIS? True or False.

False. While Latex allergy definitely causes Type 1 Hypersensitivity reactions presenting as asthma or anaphylaxis, the most common form of latex allergy is Contact Allergic Dermatitis; a more delayed presentation of itchy hand + forearm rashes caused by a delayed Type 4 Hypersensitivity response. Latex Allergy can also present as irritant dermatitis.


5. HYPOALLERGENIC IS THE SAME AS LATEX-FREE? True or False.

False. It should be emphasized that “hypoallergenic gloves” may not be safe for either latex-allergic or rubber accelerator–allergic patients.



Now ask yourself...

Next time you put on a pair of gloves - will you be checking to see if they are latex or non-latex?


Next time you see a case of anaphylaxis or asthma - will you consider the possibility of latex as a cause?

YES! Now we are getting globalaai aware :)





I admit, I only recently became globalaai aware. I previously wasn't aware of whether my gloves were latex or latex-free (or why it even mattered!)


Yet mindlessly I used them everyday. When I dressed a wound, I put gloves on. If I took blood, I put gloves on. Let's remove this wart, where's my gloves? Never giving a thought that one day a latex-allergic patient in front of me having an asthma attack or anaphylaxis could be because or even worsened by my latex gloves! (By the way this actually happenned, just ask Dr Pooja Newman, founder of globalaai or read about her double whammy latex story here.)

It’s no wonder how 100 000 or so direct skin exposures to latex or inhalation of air-borne powdered latex over the course of my working career is responsible for the high rate of latex sensitisation in health care workers.

The reported prevalence of latex immediate-type (type I) sensitivity has varied between 2.9% and 12.1% [4], and the annual incidence of sensitization has been between 1% and 2.5% . The prevalence of occupational rhino-conjunctivitis with latex glove exposure is reported as ranging from 1.2% to 16.3%, whereas the prevalence of occupational asthma is reported to be as high as 6.8% [5]


The good news is that TAKING ACTION TO PREVENT Latex sensitisation and exposure is EASY.


Here is how we can expediate Allergy Workplace Safety.

Obviously start by SHARING this post with your work colleagues!

1. TAG YOUR HR DEPARTMENT + BOSSES + COLLEAGUES.

2. PLACE A PRINTED COPY ON YOUR WORKPLACE NOTICEBOARD (everyone needs a REMINDER!)

3. ADD YOUR INFO@WORKPLACE EMAIL HERE AND WE WILL SEND YOU YOUR FREE GUIDE TO A LATEX-SAFE WORKPLACE.


Your FREE Guide to a Latex-Safe Workplace includes information about:


It's time for everyone to take some action and keep our eyes on allergy (even in the workplace).



References:

Peter M. Ranta Dennis R. Ownby. A Review of Natural-Rubber Latex Allergy in Health Care Workers. Clinical Infectious Diseases, Volume 38, Issue 2, 15 January 2004, Pages 252–256

1.ALLMERS H, BREHLER R, CHEN Z, ET AL. REDUCTION OF LATEX AEROALLERGENS AND LATEX-SPECIFIC IGE ANTIBODIES IN SENSITIZED WORKERS AFTER REMOVAL OF POWDERED NATURAL RUBBER LATEX GLOVES IN A HOSPITA, J ALLERGY CLIN IMMUNOL , 1998, VOL. 102 (PG. 841-6)

2. HAMILTON RG, BROWN RH. IMPACT OF PERSONAL AVOIDANCE PRACTICES ON HEALTH CARE WORKERS SENSITIZED TO NATURAL RUBBER LATE, J ALLERGY CLIN IMMUNOL , 2000, VOL. 105 (PG. 839-41)

3.WEISSMAN DN, LEWIS DM. ALLERGIC AND LATEX SPECIFIC SENSITIZATION: ROUTE, FREQUENCY, AND AMOUNT OF EXPOSURE THAT ARE REQUIRED TO INITIATE IGE PRODUCTIO, J ALLERGY CLIN IMMUNOL , 2002, VOL. 110 SUPPL 2(PG. 57-63)

4. GARABRANT DH, SCHWEITZER S. EPIDEMIOLOGY OF LATEX SENSITIZATION AND ALLERGIES IN HEALTH CARE WORKER, J ALLERGY CLIN IMMUNOL , 2002, VOL. 110 SUPPL 2(PG. 82-95) 5. FISH JE. OCCUPATIONAL ASTHMA AND RHINOCONJUNCTIVITIS INDUCED BY NATURAL RUBBER LATEX EXPOSUR, J ALLERGY CLIN IMMUNOL , 2002, VOL. 110 SUPPL 2(PG. 75-81)

© 2020 by Dr Suzie