Allergic Reactions to Disposable Gloves

Disposable gloves are a vital resource in everyday activities, especially in health care facilities such as hospitals and care homes. They help to prevent exposure to harmful bacteria and dangerous chemicals, while in medical settings, these disposable gloves protect both the patient and the person caring for them. However, these disposable gloves have an unfortunate side effect: they can cause allergic reactions or skin irritation.

Allergic reactions to disposable gloves are common medical problems that can affect both the health of the patient and the health of the caregivers. Since it is important for healthcare professionals to wear gloves when handling patients, it is vital to understand these skin conditions, how can they be prevented, and what actions to take when a reaction occurs.

Many kinds of skin reactions can result from wearing gloves, including latex allergy, irritant contact dermatitis, and contact urticaria. If you or a family member feel that your disposable gloves are causing you to become ill, or feel any irritation or irritation symptoms, it's important not to ignore them. The sooner an allergy can be identified and treated, the better – so don't wait.

Latex Allergies

According to WebMd, about 5% to 10% of health care workers have some form of latex allergy. Aside from them, other people who are more likely to develop latex allergies are those who have a defect in their bone marrow cells, those with a deformed bladder or urinary tract, those who had more than one operation or a urinary catheter with a rubber tip. People who already have allergy, asthma, or eczema as well as spina bifida (a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don't form properly) are also more susceptible to latex allergies. Additionally, condom users and people who work in the rubber industry are more likely than others to develop an allergy to latex.

What is Latex Allergy?

A latex allergy happens when your body's immune system mistakes proteins found in natural rubber latex, used to make things like rubber gloves and condoms, for dangerous invaders. Hence, your body's immune system will react when you come into contact with these materials.

But, what is latex?

Latex refers to a type of protein found in the sap of the Brazilian rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) as well as to products made from that sap. Aside from disposable gloves, latex is also present in everyday items made from latex, such as balloons, rubber bands, condoms, and diaphragms.

Proteins in latex are responsible for giving it its free-flowing liquid state. However, once the liquid is mixed with other ingredients and formed into gloves, the proteins' job is over. Therefore, latex proteins serve absolutely no purpose after the production of gloves,

Synthetic latex, such as that in vinyl and nitrile gloves, are not made from rubber tree sap; therefore, it can't cause symptoms of latex allergy.

What Causes an Allergy to Latex?

Some people report a latex allergy, but not all reactions to latex are due to having a true allergy to latex. A true allergic reaction is a response of the immune system to a harmless substance that is not harmful. Most often than not, people who think they are experiencing an allergy may actually be having a skin irritation (contact urticaria) caused by the glove.

What Are the Symptoms of Latex Allergy?

The symptoms can range from mild to serious and even life-threatening. So how does it work? The protein found in natural rubber can cause an allergic reaction, which then leads to the release of chemicals and histamines into the body. These chemicals are released into the body when natural rubber is exposed to a person with an allergy. The exposure can happen through direct skin contact or by swallowing.

Common early symptoms of a latex allergy include swelling, itching or redness of the skin after contact with latex items. People with latex allergies may have a severe reaction when exposed to even small amounts of latex—some develop a runny nose or hives when in contact with latex balloons or gloves, for example. These more severe reactions can include hives, swelling, runny nose or sneezing, inflammation of the eyes, breathing problems like asthma, and even anaphylaxis which can be severe and life threatening.

Types of Allergic Reactions to Disposable Gloves

There are three main types of glove reactions:

  • Irritant contact dermatitis: The most common reaction to latex is irritant contact dermatitis, which results in dry, itchy, irritated skin. It is a non-allergenic irritation that is typically the result of repeated glove-wearing. Symptoms will generally show up 12 to 24 hours after exposure. The best treatment is to wash your hands with mild soap and take a break from wearing gloves for a few days.

  • Allergic contact dermatitis: A type of latex allergy but not a life-threatening one, this is caused by a delayed reaction to latex additives. It is often more severe, widespread, and long-lasting than irritant contact dermatitis, which results from direct skin exposure to latex. Symptoms can develop up to four days after you've come in contact with latex.

  • Immediate allergic reaction (latex hypersensitivity): Latex hypersensitivity is the most serious type of allergic reaction to natural rubber latex. This can cause different effects within 30 minutes of contact with severe cases that may lead to chest pains, tremors, anaphylactic shock, and even death.

How to Prevent Latex Allergies?

It's important for people allergic to latex to let others know about their condition. The only treatment for latex allergy is to prevent contact with latex by avoiding latex products or by wearing non-latex gloves. It's especially important for anyone who has a latex allergy to ask doctors, dentists, and others giving health care workers to wear non-latex gloves when they give care.

Contact Urticaria

People very rarely have allergic reactions to gloves made of synthetic rubber since these do not contain latex. If you think you're having an allergic reaction, you might be experiencing skin irritation, caused by a lack of ventilation in the glove.

When worn for a long time, your hands sweat, and the moisture gets trapped in the glove. The skin becomes irritated and itchy, which makes wearing the gloves uncomfortable, and possibly results to contact urticaria.

What is Contact Urticaria?

Contact urticaria is a type of allergic reaction that causes the skin to be inflamed when exposed to the substance that has triggered the allergy. It can be caused by exposure to a number of substances. The symptoms of contact urticaria tend to last for a short period. It usually clears up within 24 hours of removing the cause of the allergic reaction.

What Causes Contact Urticaria?

When people sweat inside a glove, the moisture makes contact with the rubber, which then results to contact urticaria. It is caused by the body's reaction to our own histamine being released into the skin. Histamine is a natural substance found in every human body, made there as a defense against outside bacteria and viruses. Contact urticaria may occur with other types of gloves as well. The risk cannot be avoided by using any form of a glove.

What Are the Symptoms of Contact Urticaria?

Signs and symptoms of contact urticaria include a local burning sensation, or tingling, or itching. You might develop red swellings or welts, especially on your hands.

How to Prevent Contact Urticaria?

To keep your hands dry, wear fabric liners that absorb sweat as a thin layer between them and the glove. They can either be built into the glove or worn as a separate layer inside the glove. However, this thickens the overall hand defense, reducing mobility and finger dexterity.

Other Disposable Gloves Skin Irritants

Allergic reactions to wearing gloves are not always caused by latex. It's often not the material itself—such as rubber, which can be found in latex or nitrile or neoprene gloves—that causes the irritation. It's usually the chemicals added to these materials that are responsible for such reactions especially in cases of vinyl glove allergies.

Another type of glove allergies can actually caused by leakage. If you experience skin rashes after wearing vinyl gloves, it may be from chemicals leaking from the gloves and reacting to your skin, so try using thicker gloves or using another kind of glove.

What to do when you have an allergic reaction to a disposable glove

When dealing with an allergic reaction to disposable gloves, it is extremely important to remove the glove immediately and consult a doctor. Allergies are very serious and must be addressed to avoid further health complications. Should you experience an allergic reaction or irritation, report this to your supervisor immediately as it is vital to prevent further infections and skin problems.

Since the materials used to manufacture disposable gloves is different and superior, it is important to practice preventative measures. By creating a routine each and everyday when taking off your gloves you can also reduce the risk of irritation. By establishing a set time frame for disposing of gloves as well as using a protective skin lotion special formulated for skin that comes into contact with chemicals, diseases, and environmental conditions, individuals are less likely to face any allergic reactions or irritations.


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