Ask the Allergist
Can I use synthetic latex gloves if I am allergic to latex?
There are different types of allergic reactions to latex. IgE-mediated allergies to latex have the potential to:
- cause hives
- respiratory distress
- (and in some cases) anaphylaxis
This would occur fairly quickly and usually in the first hour.
Latex can cause contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis (skin irritation/rash) to latex is a delayed reaction that causes eczema in the area of contact. This may happen 1-2 days after contact.
There are other chemicals involved in the processing of rubber can cause contact dermatitis, too.
For people who are allergic to latex, I tend to recommend the use of synthetic gloves such as vinyl or nitrile. There are synthetic latex gloves, but the vinyl or nitrile gloves are readily available and often cheaper.
Douglas T. Johnston, DO, FAAAAI, FACAAI, is an allergist/clinical immunologist at Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Assistant Professor at Edward Via School of Osteopathic Medicine in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He is a fellow of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI). He has lectured at national and international medical conferences and has publications in several medical journals, including “Clinical Immunology,” “World Allergy Organization Journal,” “Journal of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology,” “The Journal of the American Medical Association,” and the “New England Journal of Medicine.”