Latex Allergy at the Dentist

Some people develop a latex allergy when they are exposed to longer times to contact with products that contain latex. When a latex allergy appears, the immune system of the patient overreacts and then certain allergic reactions may appear such as swelling or rashes.

Latex proteins can be contained even in the powder used on the medical gloves, and this powder can also become an allergen for people with known latex allergy.

Patients who are most likely to be affected by latex allergy are:

-those with the condition known as myelodysplasia

-patients who underwent many surgical procedures during their lifetime

-people with known food allergies to tomatoes, chestnuts or bananas

-patients with asthma

-patients who are repeatedly exposed to rubber dams which are used extensively during certain dental procedures

Symptoms of allergic reactions when exposed to latex products:

-hives, skin rashes, eye tearing, itching, difficulty in breathing or wheezing

-irritant contact dermatitis- which is actually the least threatening type of reaction which manifests through skin dryness, scaling and/or itching

-allergenic contact dermatitis displays pretty much the same reactions as irritant contact dermatitis, but the symptoms might spread to larger areas of the skin

-the most serious type of reaction is given by the latex hypersensitivity or immediate allergic reaction to latex.

The symptoms are more developed and they include hives, stomach cramps, conjunctivitis, tremors and shaking, pain in the chest, sudden blood pressure drop and the patient breathes with difficulty.

In case you experience any of these symptoms associated with latex allergy you should immediately go to the medial emergency room for treatment.

Also if you know that you are allergic to latex, you should tell your dentist because this way he will make sure not to use any equipment that contains latex during your dental treatment.

The treatment of latex allergy is done generally through prescription drugs such as antihistamines or corticosteroids, and in case the patient gets to the ER with severe reactions an epinephrine injection will be administered. Prevention is the best treatment after all, so you should be particularly attentive when getting medial or dental treatment, if you know of an existing latex allergy.