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Natural Rubber Latex is a common raw material used to synthesize a great variety of products, such as disposable gloves (i.e. examination, surgical, medical or rubber protective gloves), elastic bandage, adhesive tape, syringe plungers, anesthesia mask and condoms.  It is not rare to hear people suffering from allergenic reactions to latex after frequently in contact to latex rubber related products.
There are three types of latex reactions depends on the skin redness and itching to more serious symptoms:
Irritant contact dermatitis ­ minor type and results in dryness, itching, burning, scaling and lesions of the skin after repeated contact to the latex rubber related products; Allergic contact dermatitis - results in similar response to that of irritant contact dermatitis but the reaction is more severe, spreads to more parts of the body and lasts longer; Immediate allergic reaction (latex hypersensitivity) - the most serious type and result in hay fever-like symptoms, conjunctivitis, cramps, hives and severe itching. The risk for latex sensitisation and/or allergic reactions can be reduced by minimising the amount of leachable proteins.  The measurement of leachable proteins is a substitute for direct determination of allergens.  Below please find the modified Lowry method which is used to determinate the total extractable protein in medical gloves. It is a colorometric method and uses a reference protein standard for comparison.
ASTM D 5712 for determination of aqueous extractable proteins in natural rubber and its products using the modified Lowry method EN 455-3 Annex A for determination of aqueous extractable proteins in natural rubber and its products using the modified Lowry method In order to lower the risk of latex allergy or latex allergic contact dermatitis, products with residuals of allergenic proteins and sensitising chemicals should be prevented. Latex-sensitised workers or users are recommended not to have direct contact with natural rubber latex products.
In general, ingredient information on rubber products may prevent allergic responses in those subjects allergic to latex proteins and/or chemicals.  Therefore, information on the package of medical devices on the presence of natural rubber latex is therefore essential.  In the United States, the US FDA requires manufacturers to identify on the package labeling the materials used to make the medical gloves.
Medical gloves and condoms of alternative materials are available.  If you are allergic to natural rubber latex, it is better to choose gloves made from other synthetic materials (such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), Nitrile or Polyurethane).
If you ever doubt about the safety and quality of natural rubber latex products you are using, SGS Hong Kong can help to provide you an answer. Contact us now!
For further details, please read about Latex Allergenic Reactions. (PDF, 176 KB)
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