Latex Glove Allergy
Latex, also known as rubber or natural latex, is derived from the milky sap of the rubber tree, found in Africa and Southeast Asia.
Latex allergy is an allergic reaction to substances in natural latex. Rubber gloves are the main source of allergic reactions, although latex is also used in many other products such as condoms, band aids, balloons and rubber bands to name a few.
The exact cause of latex allergies is unknown, but it is thought that repeated exposure to latex and rubber products may induce symptoms.
About 5% to 10% of health care workers have some form of allergy to latex. Current estimates on the prevalence of latex allergy among health care workers range as high as 17%.
Choosing the right glove
You should understand what it is that you are putting against your skin. It is important to consider the risk of allergic sensitization when selecting gloves rather than just choosing the lowest cost item available, or simply relying on the purchasing department to make the appropriate choice for you.
First, gloves offer barrier protection both for the health care worker and the patient to guard against contact with blood, other body fluids, and microorganisms. Latex has been in use for approximately 100 years, and has proven barrier protective capability. A glove needs to be comfortable and allow tactile sensitivity. One should be able to don it easily, and then be able to perform the task at hand, as if you weren’t even wearing a glove at all.
How can a powder free glove help
Powder-free latex gloves - a study carried out at The Medical College of Wisconsin found that the best way to prevent allergic sensitization to latex is to stop the usage of powdered latex gloves. By doing so, they reduced the allergen in the air and in air ducts at two hospitals, and effectively prevented sensitization to latex in hospital employees at both institutions.
Unfortunately, manufacturers of latex-containing products are not legally required to mention which chemicals were used in the manufacturing process. Products made from natural rubber containing other emulsions seem to have a very low potential for causing sensitization.