Allergies to Latex Gloves: How To Tell

Latex gloves were the gold standard in medical settings and other workplaces through the 1990s. However, as more workers develop sensitivity and allergies to this material, latex-free alternatives have become commonplace in workplaces. It’s important to understand what latex sensitivity and allergies are, as you may need to switch to other gloves to protect your employees.

What Is Latex Sensitivity?

Latex sensitivity is when your skin becomes irritated from contact with latex. This sensitivity often results in localized contact dermatitis, which causes dry, irritated and itchy skin. These symptoms usually clear up on their own as long as there is no more contact with latex.

In some cases, latex sensitivity can cause lesions, a rash and even scaling. One way to prevent skin irritation when wearing latex gloves is by using glove liners and moisturizing hands well.

What Is a Latex Allergy and How Can You Tell?

Latex allergies occur when your immune system responds strongly to the material and the symptoms go far beyond a local irritation. The best way to tell whether you have latex sensitivity versus an allergy is to get a diagnostic test.

In some cases, latex glove allergy symptoms resemble the symptoms of sensitivity, which is why a diagnostic test is helpful. Those who have allergic contact dermatitis may experience hives, irritation and lesions. However, latex allergy symptoms may develop up to 96 hours after wearing gloves and can be more severe than the signs of sensitivity.

Those who have a more severe reaction have generalized, body-wide symptoms, rather than localized symptoms on the hands. Sufferers may experience watery or itchy eyes, a scratchy throat, sneezing, coughing, a runny nose and other symptoms.

In rarer and more serious cases, symptoms of latex glove allergy can include wheezing, anaphylactic shock, a fast heartbeat, loss of consciousness, low blood pressure, chest pain and even death. Anyone who is showing severe symptoms should be taken to the hospital.

Alternatives to Latex Gloves

Since prolonged exposure to latex can cause workers to develop contact dermatitis or an allergy, many workplaces are switching to latex-free gloves. There are many options on the market for businesses that want to avoid latex. Some alternative glove materials include:

  • Vinyl
  • Nitrile
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) 
  • Nitrile/vinyl blends

Buy Latex-Free Glove Options From SUNLINE Supply Today

SUNLINE Supply is a company carrying many latex glove alternatives to keep you and your team safe. Feel free to browse our extensive PPE selection for latex-free options or contact us for more information.