Knowledge Articles

How big a risk is latex?

By : Mölnlycke Health Care, April 2 2014Posted in: Knowledge Articles

Latex allergies are a growing concern in the healthcare industry1. Because the true extent of allergic sensitivity is not fully known, the concern is a priority. In a recent market research study 93 percent of surgeons and nurses in Europe have a moderate or high concern with the risk of latex allergic reaction from latex surgical gloves2.

Even though the prevalence of latex allergy in the general population is low, less than one percent, there is still a risk. Some studies show that up to six percent of the population can be latex sensitised1, 3.

  • The risk percentage for healthcare professionals becoming sensitised to latex ranges from 8-17 percent3
  • The prevalence rate for latex sensitivity is 65 percent in patients with spina bifida4
  • The most important factor that exacerbates a person’s likelihood of being sensitised to latex allergies is the degree of exposure to latex5

Allergic sensitivity and reactions are a concern for hospitals as they can reduce efficiency:

  • Unforeseen surgical and post-operative complications
  • The need to tear down the entire operating room and replace with latex-free equipment
  • Lost working hours for healthcare professionals
  • Latex allergy is an important medical problem and to minimise the health care professionals’ and patients’ risk for allergic reactions to latex, more and more healthcare facilities use only non-latex surgical gloves

How latex is a risk and how non-latex gloves can help

Exposure is the number one factor that increases the likelihood of developing sensitivity to latex allergies5. Health care professionals suffer an 8 to 17 percent risk, compared to the one percent prevalence in the general public.

An increasing number of healthcare facilities choose to stock only  non-latex gloves – reducing the risk for exposing latex allergic individuals, removing the need for stocking two types of gloves and leading to greater efficiencies.

Non-Latex surgical gloves can:

  • Prevent reactions or anaphylactic shock – for both patients and health care professionals
  • Prevent initial sensitisation of non-sensitised persons

Non-Latex surgical gloves are cost-efficient:

  • Reduce unnecessary costs and suffering – post-operative complications, for instance
  • Achieve higher puncture resistance with our puncture indication system6
  • Standardised inventory with 100 percent latex-free equipment optimises storage facilities and removes the worry of potential allergies


  • Neugut Alfred I, MD, PhD et al. Anaphylaxis in 1 the United States,    An Investigation Into Its Epidemiology. Arch Intern Med. 2001;161:15-21.
  • Market research Europe (Germany, Sweden, France, UK and Spain). 2011.
  • Kim K T et al. Implementation recommendations for making health care facilities latex safe. AORN Journal. 1998.
  • Yassin M S et al. Evaluation of latex allergy in patients with meningomyelocele. Annals of Allergy 69. September 1992;207-2011.
  • Poley GE and Slater JE. Current reviews of allergy and clinical immunology. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2000;Vol 105:PT6:P3.
  • REPR0704. Data on file.
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