Latex Glove Allergies
Many studies suggest that up to 6% of the general population and up to 13% of healthcare workers will develop an allergic reaction to latex at some point in their lifetime. Reaction to latex can be as simple as irritant contact dermatitis – the development of dry, itchy, irritated areas on the skin, usually the hands. This is caused by not only the latex material, but also the powders added to the gloves to assist in donning them. However, some patients can develop more severe reactions to latex, including anaphylactic shock – a condition where the blood pressure plummets due to the widening of blood vessels in the body. Left untreated, this intense allergic reaction could cause death.
What is latex? The term "latex" refers to the sap of the Brazilian rubber tree or the products made from that sap. The term is used to mean "natural rubber products."
What Causes a Reaction to Latex?
The reaction is caused by allergens—proteins in the sap of the rubber tree. Most experts believe that the allergy has surfaced recently as a result of the increased use of latex to protect people from infectious agents. There may be other causes as well. Man-made latex is not a problem.
When shopping for non-latex gloves look for ones made of vinyl, nitrile rubber or neoprene.
Also, be careful when removing latex gloves because even if you are not allergic to latex someone who is allergic may breath in the particles and have a reaction when latex becomes airborne.
Source: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America “Latex Allergy” - http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9&sub=21&cont=383