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Latex allergy.

WITH THE INCREASED FOCUS ON infection control in health care, latex gloves have been used extensively. However, latex allergies--to the gloves and to other health and dental equipment--have also increased. Below are some excellent resources to give you a greater understanding of this common allergy as well as suggestions to avoid or minimize exposure in your workplace.

Latex Allergy (Mayo Clinic)

This Mayo Clinic site examines latex allergy with the clinic's usual thoroughness and expertise. The site breaks down the information into the following categories: Introduction, Signs and symptoms, Causes, Risk factors, When to seek medical advice, Screening and diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention. An informative slide show and video show common skin rashes with links from the final slide in the series to two more slide shows, Types of dermatitis, Common baby rashes, and to the Skin Center.

Contact Dermatitis and Latex Allergy (National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion)

This site from one of the Centers for Disease Control is a comprehensive look at latex allergy. The site has clear descriptions and definitions and a very useful table on the categories of glove-associated skin reactions. There are also suggestions on how to avoid latex in the dental office environment, both for the allergic dental hygienist and an allergic client. At the end of site, there are links to valuable on-line documents published by the Centers for Disease Control: Preventing Allergic Reactions to Natural Rubber Latex in the Workplace ( and Latex Allergy: A Prevention Guide (

American Latex Allergy Association

This association was formed to "provide educational information about latex allergy and support latex-allergic individuals." One of the main tabs, Latex Allergy Topics, has links to statistics, symptoms, lists of common latex products, cross reactive allergens, and lists of alternatives. Its newsletter, ALERT, has a short list of articles; the latest, "School Safety Guidelines for Latex-Allergic Students," was posted in mid-August 2006.

Latex Allergy Links

This is a private individual's site but some of the links appear very interesting and come from reputable journals. Although one should always be vigilant about the reliability of any web site, this is definitely the rule with individually authored sites. The creator of the web site has divided information on latex allergies into many categories including the following: Cross-Reactivity, Dentistry, Gloves, Hospitals, Journals, and Manufacturers. The Dentistry link brings up a long list of articles, such as "Hand protection in the dental office" from the Paris-based French dental association, "Adverse reactions to latex products" from the Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice, and "Latex-free dental cartridges" from Dimensions of Dental Hygiene.

"Adverse Reactions to Latex Products: Preventive and Therapeutic Strategies" (in Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice, February 2006, Vol. 7, No. 1)

This comprehensive evidence-based 15-page article is free on the Internet. It covers the etiology and epidemiology of latex allergies, clinical manifestations of the allergy (with photos), diagnosis, diagnostic tests, preventive strategies, treatment strategies, plus an extensive list of references.

Latex in Healthcare: A Guide to Latex Sensitivity and the Latex Database (Occupational Health and Safety Agency for Healthcare in BC [OHSAH])

This publication (and you can access only a sample free over the Internet) "provides an overview of latex and latex sensitivities, with a particular focus on the use of latex in healthcare. It also provides instructions on accessing and using the OHSAH Latex Database, a new tool for identifying the latex content of products and latex-free alternatives." Health care facilities in British Columbia can order them free of charge. Other health care facilities can order it for $20 plus shipping and handling. The Latex Database has 12,000 items so the readers "can find, at a glance, which products or supply items contain latex and which ones are latex free. Research is also underway to identify latex free alternatives."

Preventing Allergic Reactions to Natural Rubber Latex in the Workplace (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health [NIOSH], 1997)

This ALERT contains general information about latex allergy--what it is, what equipment contains it, types of reactions, levels and routes of exposure, who is at risk, diagnosis and treatment, prevalence, brief case reports, and recommendations for both employers and workers to minimize the exposure.

by CDHA Staff
COPYRIGHT 2006 The Canadian Dental Hygienists Association
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Title Annotation:PROBING THE NET
Publication:Canadian Journal of Dental Hygiene
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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