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Occup Med (Lond). 1999 Jan;49(1):3-9.

A review of current literature on epidemiology of immediate glove irritation and latex allergy.

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Department of Public Health Science and General Practice, University of Oulu, Finland.


Natural rubber latex (NRL) allergy has attained world-wide importance with the diagnosis of glove hypersensitivity, contact urticaria, rhinitis, conjunctivitis, asthma and anaphylaxis. In the present report, the latest literature of the epidemiology of NRL allergy is reviewed, an account on the incidence of NRL allergy (19 new cases of contact urticaria/100,000 workers per year) among health care workers is given and the prevention of NRL allergy is discussed. Among health care workers, NRL allergy has gained prominence particularly with the spread of AIDS and an increase in the use of rubber gloves for barrier protection. For screening NRL allergy, a simple and quick test based on a self-administered questionnaire has been presented, but it needs further evaluation before routine use can commence. Further analytic studies will show if the use of low allergen gloves reduces the incidence of NRL allergy.

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