Certain kinds of allergies do not manifest immediately, but are instead developed over a period of time. In fact, prolonged exposure to potential allergens increases the likelihood of developing an allergy greatly.
People who are in the medical profession are particularly prone to developing such allergies. In fact, one of the recommended methods to prevent such allergies, wearing gloves while handling all potential allergens, can be one of the major causes for the development of a delayed hypersensitivity reaction!
Latex is one of the things that is found in rubber gloves. It is a milky sap that is derived from rubber trees. Since healthcare workers are required to wear gloves all the time, they are exposed to latex for prolonged durations.
Some of the symptoms that are associated with a latex allergy include:
- Redness of the skin
- The skin can turn scaly after a few hours of exposure to latex
- Swelling and pain in the fingertips
Apart from these local reactions, patients can also suffer from systemic reactions to the presence of latex that include sneezing, a runny nose, red watery eyes, itching in other parts of the body, a break out of rashes and itchiness in the throat and bouts of coughing.
Anayphylaxis, which is a reaction of the body that sends it into shock and can be life threatening, is rare but also a possibility.
A definitive diagnosis of latex allergy will be made after running a series of tests in which the reaction of the body to a number of known allergens is studied. The attempt will be to isolate the exact cause of the allergy. It may be latex or one of the chemicals used to treat it before being incorporated into the gloves.
Blood tests and patch tests on the skin will be used to narrow down possible allergens. It is not uncommon for people to be sensitive to more than one allergen and if so, the results will indicate that as well.
Treating A Latex Allergy
The first step is to avoid contact with latex altogether. There are plenty of substitutes including nitrile and vinyl gloves. The idea is to not have any of the symptoms to treat by avoiding contact with the allergen.
If however you do develop the aforementioned symptoms then you may need to take some anti-histamines and some anti-allergy medication. It is advisable that a shot of epinephrine be kept in close proximity (preferably on the person) so that it can be administered in the event of an anaphylactic reaction.
Remember that a person with the tendency to develop allergies is prone to developing more allergies down the line because of a hyperactive immune system. Being very careful with the products that you use on your skin is advisable. Use products that have been tested dermatologically and stick to the same brands once you have found a few you are comfortable using.
These allergies will stay with you throughout life and so it is essential that you find effective management solutions.
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