The prevalence of latex allergy has increased because
of the increased regular use of natural rubber
latex gloves. The increase in sensitisation and allergy
has also been linked to the poor quality of glove and
condom production to meet the increased demand.
However, the prevalence has been decreasing in
some Western countries as a result of the implementation
of preventive strategies.
Certain individuals such as health care workers and
children with spina bifida are at increased risk of sensitisation
and development of latex allergy. There are
various ways in which sensitisation to latex occurs,
including inhalation of airborne latex particles, and
mucosal and skin contact.
Household gloves have been found to cause less
latex allergy because of their special production
techniques, the fact that there is loose contact with
hands, and the short period of use.
Diagnosis of latex allergy depends on a good history,
clinical symptoms and signs such as irritant dermatitis,
allergic contact dermatitis, and type I hypersensitivity
reaction. Diagnosis is confirmed by skin-prick
test and specific latex IgE. Other diagnostic tests
that can be used are nasal provocation tests and the
glove use test.
Management strategies are mainly preventive measures
and use of symptomatic therapy.