Latex Allergies

Health and SafetyIn this section:

An increased incidence of allergy to natural rubber latex (NRL) has occurred since the introduction of universal precautions in the late 1980s demanded that healthcare workers protect themselves from the risk of blood-borne infections such as hepatitis B and HIV.

There are two types of allergy related to NRL:

  • Type I – caused by the natural latex proteins
  • Type IV – caused by the chemicals used to convert NRL to a useable product.

Some people might experience an irritant reaction when using products made from NRL, which is known as irritant contact dermatitis; this is not a true allergy (see Work-related Contact Dermatitis in Dentistry).

More seriously, others might experience an immediate allergic reaction to NRL proteins, which is potentially life threatening (anaphylaxis).