Latex allergies

I just finished reading Frances Dean Wolfe`s article on latex allergies and gloves (September 1998 issue) and would like to take exception to some statements and recommendations. Premedications and antihistamines only mask symptoms of latex allergy. Too many health care workers are in denial. They have a latex allergy and use medication so they can continue to work. If they are still exposed to aerosolized latex, their antibody count increases, their sensitivity increases, and one day the meds n

Dear RDH:

I just finished reading Frances Dean Wolfe`s article on latex allergies and gloves (September 1998 issue) and would like to take exception to some statements and recommendations. Premedications and antihistamines only mask symptoms of latex allergy. Too many health care workers are in denial. They have a latex allergy and use medication so they can continue to work. If they are still exposed to aerosolized latex, their antibody count increases, their sensitivity increases, and one day the meds no longer work. Also, cortico-steroids have many undesirable effects.

Wearing under-gloves does not prevent latex allergies. Research is being done on how dermatitis is a precursor and can progress to a Class IV allergy. I know, since it happened to me. I wore under-gloves for two years because my hands were itchy and breaking out, only to have a full-blown environmental asthma attack and a Class IV test result.

Barrier creams do more harm than good. A test done on a nitrocellulose plate shows a fingerprint with a barrier cream has a higher protein or allergen count because the creamy film tends to extract more proteins from the glove.

The best prevention is to use a low-protein, nonpowdered glove, and if you are having any problems - dermatological, respiratory, or otherwise - switch to a nonlatex glove.

There is no going back once you have a Class IV allergy.

Margaret Corso, RDH

Frederick, Maryland

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