The Dental Team and Latex Hypersensitivity

JADA The Journal of the American Dental Association February 1999, vol. 130, no. 2, pp. 257-264(8)

[1]Information and Policy, ADA Council on Scientific Affairs, in the preparation of this report. Address reprint requests to Dr. Shearer at 211 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

Background. In the late 1980s, there were notable increases in reports of allergic reactions to natural rubber latex, or NRL, particularly in association with barium enema procedures and medical procedures performed on children with spina bifida. These reports also raised awareness of the growing concern about NRL allergy in both patients and health care workers.

Description of the Disorder. This report by the American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs summarizes the signs and symptoms of NRL protein allergy, allergic contact dermatitis and irritant dermatitis; offers information on means to diagnose these conditions definitively; and suggests means of reducing occupational exposure to the causative allergens and irritants in the dental office.

Clinical Implications. Reducing health care workers' occupational exposure may assist in minimizing adverse reactions associated with frequent wearing of gloves. The Council on Scientific Affairs will address issues relating to latex hypersensitivity among patients in a future report.