Reactions to Latex Gloves
Irritant Contact Dermatitis. This is the most common reaction to latex gloves, as a result of direct skin contact and the build up of perspiration causing a moist environment. Irritation is often exacerbated by frequent hand washing. This is a not an allergic reaction, but may result in dry itchy skin on the hands. The condition normally resolves once contact is discontinued. Good skin care can reduce the risk of skin problems.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis (type IV reaction). This is a less common reaction and results from hypersensitivity to residues of accelerating agents used in latex glove manufacturing. This type of reaction is often delayed, occurring several hours after contact with latex. It is usually localised, resulting in a rash on the back of the hands and between the fingers. There may be blisters present.
Immediate Hypersensitivity (type I reaction). This is an allergic reaction to naturally occurring protein residues found in NRL. This type of reaction occurs within 5 - 30 minutes of exposure. There is generally localised swelling and itching; however, a more general reaction may occur. This could include itchy eyes, runny nose and sometimes wheezing, chest tightness or asthma. In rare cases, exposure of a sensitised individual may result in anaphylaxis, a life threatening condition.
Early reporting of symptoms
Any member of staff who develops symptoms of irritation or suspected allergy to gloves or other latex products should immediately report this to their manager and the Occupational Health Service, to enable investigation, diagnosis and appropriate advice on work activities.