Warwick Med supply only LATEX FREE products because Healthcare workers have an increased chance of developing a latex sensitivity due to repeated exposure to latex - 27% of anaphylactic reactions involve patients under 5 years old.
The composition of our elastic is 77% Polyester and 23% Elastine. Latex free elastic is equally durable to rubber elastic and will maintain its stretch retention. Latex free elastic is in the Healthcare sector for us is a necessity and it also ties in with our environmental aim in reducing the carbon footprint as fewer carcinogens are used in the manufacturing process.
Natural rubber latex (NRL) is a milky fluid obtained from the Hevea brasiliensis tree, which is widely grown in south-east Asia. As with many other natural products, NRL contains proteins to which some individuals may develop an allergy.
Latex in Healthcare
What is the actual problem with Latex? Natural rubber latex proteins have the potential to cause asthma and dermatitis. Although rare, more serious allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis are also possible. The amount of latex exposure needed to induce sensitisation is unknown. A substance which causes sensitisation can also cause an allergic reaction in certain people. Once sensitisation has taken place, further exposure to the substance, even to low levels, may cause a reaction - increasing the exposure to latex proteins increases the risk of inducing a sensitised state and triggering allergic symptoms.
NRL proteins can cause type I (immediate) hypersensitivity. In addition, the products manufactured using NRL proteins contain other chemicals that can cause irritant reactions and/or type IV (delayed) hypersensitivity reactions.
Inflames on contact
Not everyone who is latex sensitive has a full-blown allergy. Some people get contact dermatitis - a skin rash and itching which starts one to several days after contact with a latex product. With repeated exposure, it can get pretty nasty, with dry and crusted scabs on the skin. “Most of what we see in the allergic contact dermatitis clinic is hand rashes from the rubber accelerators in latex and some non-latex gloves, "Dr. Schalock says
Accelerators are a type of chemical used to manufacture latex products. The person’s skin reacts to the chemical, not the latex proteins. For these people, Dr. Schalock says, the remedy is antihistamines, like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or Cetirizine (Zyrtec) and “complete avoidance in the future.”
Although anyone can develop a latex allergy, it usually occurs in people with repeated exposure to the rubber proteins. Allergies to latex skyrocketed in the 1990s as a more and more people (mostly in healthcare and associated professions) were required to use gloves to avoid getting and spreading infections. Although the use of alternatives has decreased latex allergies, up to 12% of healthcare workers and up to 6% of the general population may have a latex allergy or sensitivity. “The most common patient is a healthcare worker or frequent surgical patient,” says Dr. Peter Schalock, assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
** There is no cure for a latex allergy and the reason for avoiding latex a must **
According to the American Latex Allergy Association, the signs of latex allergy, which is really a system-wide immune reaction, include:
· hives or welts
· swelling of the affected area
· a runny nose
· reddened, itchy, or teary eyes
· sore throat, hoarse voice
· abdominal cramps
· chest tightness, wheezing, or shortness of breath (asthma)
Sometimes the reaction is so powerful it can put a person into anaphylactic shock, which can be deadly.