Latex sensitivity? or allergy?

  1. Have any of you become latex sensitive or allergic over the years? What were your symptoms? How did you handle it?

  2. Visit Charisse profile page

    About Charisse

    Joined: Apr '02; Posts: 16; Likes: 14
    perinatal RN
    Specialty: 22 year(s) of experience in L&D, Nursery


  3. by   Angel Baby
    Not to the latex, but the powedered gloves cause my hands to develop dry, red, painful bumps.

    A knowledgeable doc told me that the powder is more the offender than the latex--the way to distinguishe between the two? If you can wear underwear with elastic waist without problems, then you are not truly latex sensitive/allergic.........
  4. by   Charisse

    What I have read is that the powder acts like a transport medium to make the latex, especially if it has contact with open areas, more readily accessible to the body.

    Unfortunately, I would have to say I do react to the elastic in the underwear, but all these years I used to think that it was from the pressure of the elastic against my skin. My skin is so sensitive that anything putting pressure on my skin leaves a red mark in that shape which then becomes a welt. However, putting 2 and 2 together.....I used to burn like fire for a few hours after my ex used to use rubbers when we made love.....and then there is the tingling of my lips from blowing up balloons, which I thought was the result of pursed lips for a long time (which I have been told no one else feels).

    So, in addition to the story I placed here about one of the very last births I did, I am now facing this reality: that I have been and am allergic to latex. Wearing the old powdered high protein latex gloves in the 80's, my hands would burn like FIRE, turn red for hours and my skin would split wide open along the creases in my palm. The unit changed to low protein, no powder gloves and I was spared any more grief until 2 years ago. One day I noticed, after a C/S, that I was constantly rubbing my hands together, scratching them. I looked down and my hands were beet red again. So the next couple of days, I tested my hands with the gloves....and the same thing repeated. I was starting to get heartbroken because I knew this recurrence was going to spell the end of my career. So...I asked for a substitute and got Nitrile gloves which were good, but I still had to put sterile latex gloves over the nitrile ones when we ran out of the sterile non-latex ones. Plus all the other latex around me....sigh.

    I didn't know how sick I was getting until this incident mentioned elsewhere happened and I was away from the work environment for a long time. Long enough to clear up my breathing. I have asthma but it was getting worse....slowly...over a long period of time. There were days that I couldn't hardly do deliveries because I was trying so hard to breathe. Like I said, I never put 2 and 2 together here. I have been home for over a year now and I RARELY have to take my asthma medication...maybe 3 times since last Jan. Before that, I couldn't even get it really totally under control (I never got to the respiratory distress stage, thank God, where I needed to go to the was always a more quiet, chronic kind of asthma).

    I so desperately want to get back to the profession I love so much, but, as you can see, I now have a double whammy to deal with. I want to do the easy thing. I want to deny that I have this problem. My expressing it here is making it more real for me. I want to do the thing we nurses are so good at....I want to go into denial and one day, when I am ready, go back to work. In reality, I know that will never happen...and it hurts even more.

    You guys are great. For over a year now I have looked for a forum to express myself without repercussions or qualms--and I finally found it. Thanks for listening to me. I do appreciate it so much.

    Before I go, if you knew of anyone with this problem, what aspects of nursing did they turn to? or what kind of profession did they change to?

  5. by   Angel Baby
    Education (in-hospital or out--in fact, one of the best nurses I know was burned out giving patient care, tried management--hated that and is now the L&D unit educator)' she loves it--gets to play in her field of choice--she's just taking care of nurses (a different "patient population"), case management, nurse recruiter........

    As a manager, I get interaction with the nurses, I teach part of the L&D internship and network with other managers at sister hospitals. My hands-on is limited, but you're right about the overall atmosphere where latex is constantly in use (riding on those powder molecules). What a bummer for you--I hope you can find something that works for you...

    Oh, yeah--there's always the option of legal nurse-consultant (go be an advocate for all those nurses getting beat up at work) or try to hook up with a law firm and assist them with auditing charts of potential/actual law suits--your experience and area of expertise makes you very marketable for this. This may also lead to becoming an expert witness--this area has the potential for greater income than working in patient care (doesn't make much sense, does it?)
  6. by   NurseDennie
    Charisse -

    I've been hanging around this forum for quite a while this evening, and I've read this post and the one where you explain that horrible incident that caused you to leave nursing for a while. I hope that as time goes by, you're able to get back into some form of nursing that feeds your soul and helps you heal from that!!!

    I have the same sx as you, and it's definitely a latex allergy - I started noticing that I had a lot of irritation after a pelvic exam. Oh the pain!!!

    I am firmly of the opinion that every person in the world either IS allergic to latex or hasn't YET been exposed to enough latex for the allergy to manifest. And there apparently is a bit of information supporting this, because a lot of places are moving to non-latex gloves and as much other equipment as possible.

    To me, the key is limiting exposure to latex. Non-latex gloves is the first order of business. Then I moved my stethoscope from around my neck and hung it on my belt. That helped quite a bit - I'm not a red-neck anymore! I've seen nurses with cute stethoscope covers which could work as well.

    The bottom line is that if you are allergic to latex, then that's something that your employer has to work around.


  7. by   bbnurse
    Lots of hospitals are going to all non-latex gloves, especially in the nonclinical areas like the food handlers and housekeeping. Our nursing dept is going latex free sterile and nonsterile gloves for the most part. We are all hoping to see a decrease in the problems the insidious latex allergen causes. Hope it works. There are some really good (stretchy and conforms to hands better) gloves available. Costs are higher but the cost of nitrile or liners AND the human factors probably offsets the whole cost issue. We will be changed over by mid May. I can't wait!