Disposable gloves provide an important barrier between your hands and any germs, contaminants, chemicals or dirt you’re working with. They play a vital role in protecting workers across numerous industries, keeping their hands safe and clean.
For people with sensitive skin, however, the disposable gloves themselves can sometimes be problematic, causing allergic reactions and painful skin irritations. Find out more about what causes reactions and what gloves are good for sensitive skin.
Hand Allergies From Wearing Disposable Gloves
Natural rubber latex gloves were the first disposable rubber gloves developed for use in medical facilities. For many years, they remained the most popular option due to their comfortable fit, sensitive touch and high level of protection.
However, latex allergies have become increasingly common, and are most prevalent in people who are repeatedly exposed to latex. In fact, up to 17% of healthcare workers have developed a hypersensitivity to latex because they’re so frequently exposed to the material.
People with latex allergies are often sensitive to the proteins within the rubber. These proteins can cause itchiness, hives, blistering, dermatitis of the hands or even anaphylaxis in extreme cases. These symptoms can also stem from a reaction to the chemicals used in producing latex gloves.
Having broken or wet skin — like skin that has just been scrubbed — can increase your risk of developing symptoms of dermatitis related to latex gloves. Reactions can occur immediately on contact with the material, or they may be delayed by several hours.
The Best Latex-Free Gloves for Sensitive Skin
As latex allergies have become more common and often result from exposure, many workplaces and medical facilities have moved toward latex-free options to protect their employees. These employers often see much lower rates of latex allergies or skin irritations occurring due to disposable gloves.
Two of the most popular options for sensitive-skin-friendly gloves include synthetic rubbers like nitrile and vinyl.
Nitrile Gloves for Sensitive Skin
Nitrile gloves are an allergy-safe alternative to latex gloves and offer even greater protection. These gloves are durable and resistant to hazardous chemicals, acids, and oils, and they are nearly three times as puncture-resistant as latex materials.
Like latex, nitrile gloves are ideal for use in medical facilities and jobs that require employees to handle dangerous or sharp materials, as they resist tears and offer superior protection against contaminants. These gloves are powder-free and mold to your hand for a comfortable fit while offering high levels of touch sensitivity and dexterity.
Vinyl Gloves for Sensitive Skin
Vinyl gloves provide another hypoallergenic alternative to latex for employees with sensitive skin. These gloves are constructed from polyvinyl chloride material designed to protect your sensitive skin from dirt and bacteria while keeping hands clean and dry.
Although vinyl gloves offer less durability than latex, they are an affordable option for those who only need gloves for short-term wear or work with moderately hazardous materials. They provide a snug fit and feel similar to latex, with a sensitive touch and improved dexterity to complete any task.