Patients, faculty and staff all have the potential to be latex sensitive and become latex allergic.
Latex sensitivities and allergies are a reaction to certain proteins in latex rubber. Individuals at increased risk for these reactions include individuals involved in providing health care, persons with spina bifida or urogenital abnormalities or persons with a history of food allergies e.g., bananas, avocados, etc.
Increased exposure to latex proteins, whether through direct or airborne contact with lubricant latex glove powder, can increase the risk of developing symptoms. These symptoms can include skin rash, hives, flushing, itching, nasal, eye or sinus symptoms, asthma and can increase with repeated exposure to latex.
Ways to reduce exposure to patients include identifying patients who are or may be allergic to latex or have an increased incidence of such allergies e.g., spina bifida. The suspected allergy should be documented in the patient’s chart and communicated to all healthcare providers. An exam/procedure room should be designated to accommodate latex sensitive/allergic patients. All latex items should be removed from the environment. The room should be cleaned using latex free products with special attention paid to areas where glove powders may collect. A sign should be posted identifying the room as “latex safe”.
Ways to reduce exposure to faculty and staff include appropriate use of gloves when handling infectious materials. If latex gloves are used, use gloves that are powder-free and have a reduced protein content. Wash hands after removing gloves. If you suspect you are becoming latex sensitive or your symptoms are increasing, contact Employee Health for an evaluation.
Additional information regarding latex allergies can be found through the following links: