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Dry Skin a Cause of Allergy to Latex Gloves Reports Water and Skin Researcher
Date:12/10/2013

n of which is entirely preventable with proper skin care (See “Contact Dermatitis and Latex Allergy,” Center for Disease Control, http://www.cdc.gov, July 10, 2013).

“Type I latex allergy” is by far the rarest and involves an adverse reaction to certain proteins in the sap of the Hevea brasiliensis rubber tree. Natural latex from other species of rubber tree is far less likely to produce a reaction. Synthetic latex will not produce a reaction.

“Type IV latex allergy” is also known as “allergic contact dermatitis.” This is far more common than Type I and involves a skin rash with blistering and oozing of the skin. It is caused by certain chemicals used in the processing of rubber products. The solution is to use synthetic latex gloves, vinyl or neoprene gloves, minimize glove use and keep hand skin well hydrated. .

“Irritant contact dermatitis” is the most common type of reaction to latex gloves and is not considered a true allergy. This involves dry, itchy, irritated areas on the hands, caused either by the frequent use of natural or synthetic latex gloves, or by associated exposure to other workplace irritants. Frequent hand washing, incomplete hand drying, perspiring under the gloves, frequent exposure to hand sanitizers, and the starchy powder found on some gloves, can aggravate symptoms.

Irritant contact dermatitis, according to Kleyne, can be prevented by minimizing glove use and by making sure the skin of the hands is well humidified and not dry or dehydrated. Dry hand skin is far more susceptible to all dermatitis, allergens and irritants.

Kleyne notes that most tap water, when used for hand washing, will not increase the skin’s water content because tap water usually has an alkaline pH (more than 7.0) whereas human skin has a lightly acidic pH (less than 7.0). Common tap water also often contains chemicals such as chlorine that can fur
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