Latex gloves are frequently used in environments where cleanliness matters, such as the food service industry, tattoo parlors, and medical settings. If you're one of the estimated 6% of the population who has a latex allergy, you may find yourself experiencing unwanted symptoms when you wear or touch latex.
Some common signs of a latex allergy on your hands can include:
- A rash
- Itching, red skin
- Swollen or inflamed skin
In addition to these symptoms, some people who are having an allergic reaction to latex gloves may show some other common signs, such as sneezing, a runny nose, or watering eyes after handling latex gloves.
Can You Become Allergic to Latex Gloves Later in Life?
While many people who have a latex allergy have had these symptoms for all their adult lives, this isn't always the case. It's possible to develop a latex allergy later in life. In fact, frequent exposure to latex can cause your body to become sensitive to it, leading to an allergic reaction. This is one reason so many healthcare workers become allergic to latex gloves.
Not everyone who experiences skin irritation as a result of wearing gloves is actually allergic to latex. In some cases, the irritation could be caused by moisture from wearing the gloves too long, or by repeated hand washing with harsh soaps or use of harsh hand sanitizers. If avoiding latex does not resolve the issue, consider those possibilities.
How to Cope with a Latex Hand Allergy
If you find yourself having a non life-threatening or severe reaction to latex gloves, you can treat the reaction by taking an oral antihistamine or using an antihistamine cream. You can also reduce the swelling with a hydrocortisone cream, or use a gentle, soothing lotion to treat the irritation in the short term.
Some people find home remedies such as using an oatmeal bath can help to reduce irritation and swelling. Drinking a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with water or tea may also help.
If your skin is cracked, blistered, or very inflamed, try to keep it clean to prevent infection. Your doctor may be able to provide you with ointments to soothe the skin if you have contact dermatitis.
If you think you've developed a latex glove allergy, it's a good idea to have a professional allergy test carried out to confirm this. While waiting for a test, try to avoid exposure to latex. Repeated exposure to latex could make the symptoms worse.
Choose Latex Free Gloves for Happy Skin
Fortunately for those who are allergic to latex gloves, there are latex-free products available. Disposable nitrile, vinyl or poly gloves offer a practical solution if you find latex irritates your skin.
Today, it's even possible to find latex-free medical grade gloves that are suitable for use in healthcare environments. If you're not sure what type of material is best suited for you or your staff, take a look at our chemical resistance chart or contact us for advice.