The following steps are based on a common sense approach to minimising latex sensitisation of all healthcare workers.
1. Use non-latex gloves for activities that are not likely to involve contact with infectious materials (food preparation and housekeeping etc.).
2. Appropriate barrier protection is necessary when handling infectious material. If you choose latex gloves, use powder free with reduced protein content: such gloves reduce exposures to latex protein and thus reduce the risk of latex allergy (although symptoms may still occur in some workers).
3. Use appropriate work practices to reduce the chance of latex reactions. When wearing latex gloves, do not use oil-based hand creams or lotions unless they have been shown to reduce latex problems. After removing latex gloves, wash hands and dry thoroughly.
4. Take advantage of all latex allergy education and training provided by your employer, and learn to recognise the symptoms of latex allergy.
5. If you develop symptoms avoid direct contact with latex products and see a physician experienced in latex allergy. Carefully follow your physician's instructions for dealing with allergic reactions to latex.
6. If you have latex allergy: avoid contact with latex products; avoid areas where you might inhale powder from latex gloves worn by others; tell your employer that you have a latex allergy; and wear a medic-alert bracelet. It must be stressed that it is best to treat early to prevent the sensitisation to latex becoming too severe.
(Adapted from recommendations of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1997)
Content updated March 2010