Chemical Allergy "The Other Latex Allergy"

Russell Thompson, Editor

In this issue, we explore the sources, diagnosis, and treatment of Contact Dermatitis an expansive allergic condition which represents approximately 30% of occupationally-induced skin diseases. Coupled with irritant contact dermatitis, a non allergic reaction to gloves, these conditions represent the second largest occupational disability reported to OSHA. Of particular concern to healthcare workers is that this allergy may predispose some individuals to even greater risk of bloodborne pathogen infection as it compromises the body's most efficacious barrier, intact skin. The breakdown of the dermis may also permit the passage of latex proteins into the body thereby facilitating protein hypersensitivity in some individuals.

It will become apparent to the reader that although this condition was identified in the 1930s, it is generally not well understood, difficult to definitively diagnose and most importantly, difficult to eliminate from the numerous products which are the sources of the allergens. For the past three years, FDA has unsuccessfully attempted to regulate, through labeling, the presence of these allergens in medical gloves.

Due to the necessary technical nature of several of the articles in this issue, we have substituted abbreviations in the body of the articles. The actual formulas are listed on the final page, and copies of complete articles of guest authors, Dr. Thomas Fuchs and Dr. Brock Williams are available from the editor.