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It is important for all healthcare professionals to assess their own level of natural rubber latex sensitivity by taking notice of any reactions to substances in the workplace such as chemicals, offensive vapours or frequently used items.

Recognising the Signs of an Adverse Reaction

Signs that you may have a sensitivity may include some or all of the following:

  • Redness and swelling of the effected area
  • Itching
  • Rash
  • Weal
  • Excessive tearing
  • Sneezing, itching and watery discharge from the nose
  • Swelling of the eyelids
  • Respiratory distress

Recurrent episodes of the symptoms are an indication that you should see your physician.

What to do if you Experience an Adverse Reaction

If you experience any of the above signs and symptoms it is generally recommends that you:

  • Switch to a natural rubber latex-free non-latex glove
  • Use chemical accelerator-free gloves or an Ansell glove that as they has been washed or leached during manufacture to reduce residual chemicals which may cause the allergy
  • Institute a regular skin care regimen
  • Always wash hands thoroughly after removing gloves
  • Always use a pH neutral hand wash
  • Wet hands before applying any hand wash and rinse thoroughly after use
  • Dry hands with a soft cloth/towel or low heat blow dryer
  • Use a moisturiser between hand washes. Choose a moisturiser that is pH neutral, lanolin-free and low in fats
  • Take care of fingernails


Minimising the Risks

Irritant Contact Dermatitis

Irritant contact dermatitis is a condition affecting the skin and should not be confused with an allergy. Glove users can help reduce the risk of irritation by:

  • Minimising contact with the causative agent
  • Instituting a regular skin care regimen
  • Avoiding oil/ fat-based hand creams
  • Wearing powder-free gloves

When to Seek Medical Advice

In the event of a persistent dermatitis, it is recommended to always consult a medical practitioner. This is due to the fact that the clinical manifestations of allergic contact dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis, the most frequent type of dermatitis suffered by healthcare professionals, are very similar and it is not always possible to visually differentiate between these two types of dermatitis