The aim of the present study was to determine the prevalence of allergy to latex gloves among dental students
Latex allergy is a common occupational disease among healthcare workers who use latex gloves. Self-administrated questionnaires, physical examination and diverse allergic tests are largely used to assess data about natural history, risk factors, type of allergic reaction, etc.
In this prospective study, a total of 240 students separated as non-exposed, shortly-exposed and longer-exposed during school practice completed a self-administrated questionnaire that comprised of a total of different items and gave information about the participants and their glove use, working habits and glove use, signs and symptoms related to glove use, precautions taken to minimize it, etc. Challenge and patch tests were performed through latex gloves, skin prick test with commercial extracts.
Questionnaire items and diagnostic tests revealed that one-fourth of subjects were suspicious for latex gloves hypersensitivity. Their mean value for skin reactions like contact urticaria, irritant or allergic dermatitis was between 10% and 14%, while for other symptoms the mean value was under 5%. In general, students who experienced latex exposure over 2 years during their school practice have shown about a two-fold positive response for statements or diagnostic tests about latex gloves hypersensitivity. Also the Kendall tau coefficient progressed from non-exposed group to longer-exposed one for the majority of items.
Because of relationship between allergic reactions to latex gloves and some medical histories, it seems to be necessary for pre-matriculation evaluation and periodic health surveillance of dental students.
This study reinforces the conclusion that it is essential to recognize which professionals are sensitized to latex in order to provide appropriate treatment and to establish adequate prevention . A positive history for allergic and irritant symptoms, as determined by questionnaire was significant predictor of a positive response to latex antigens. Healthcare enterprise-wide interventions requiring use of low-allergen gloves, changing gloves to non-latex ones, or even using low-allergen latex gloves, in the affected individuals appears to confer adequate secondary prevention . Because of relationship between allergic reactions to latex gloves and some medical histories, it seems to be necessary the pre-matriculation and pre-employment evaluation, as well as periodic health surveillance of dental students/workers .
Study Published in International Journal of Clinical & Medical Allergy, SciDoc Publishers.
Author : Ervin Ç. Mingomataj,
Mother Theresa School of Medicine, Albania.