Latex gloves

  1. A while ago, I heard a lecture about latex allergy from a physician interested in it who had come from Duke, I believe. He had many interesting things to say about the risks to health care workers; he got his hospital to stop using latex gloves altogether.

    Of course, I "caught it" after I heard his lecture - just not sure how long after. Itchy hands whenever I put the gloves on was the main problem. Stopped when I switched to vinyl.

    What may be seen as a "psychologic" condition was later proven with lab work - RAST level 3 (can be 0 - 5, 5 means severe with anaphylaxis).

    So, just curious about a few things and would like to hear any comments.
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  2. Poll: Are you sensitive or allergic to latex?

    • Yes

      39.34% 24
    • No

      60.66% 37
    61 Votes
  3. 17 Comments

  4. by   abrenrn
    Darn,

    Wanted to ask a few questions, not sure how though. Things like, does your facility screen, any problems with skin, eyes, asthma ... - all can come from latex sensitivity.

    Oh well. First time.
  5. by   jemb
    My Rast was negative, but if I use latex gloves, my hands crack and bleed atcorners of the nailbeds around the knuckles . Our facility offers the option of nitrile gloves, and I have no problems when I use those. Screening is done when a problem is suspected.
  6. by   sunnygirl272
    so far i am ok with the latex..it's the powder in them that kills me...so at this point i am a powder-free latex glove girl....but i suspect that over time i will have problems with the latex, as the powder in the gloves is partially powdered latex...
  7. by   Brita01
    Same with me. I am also allergic to the powder, not the gloves themselves.
  8. by   adrienurse
    Thankfully we use vinyl gloves at work (though technically not as good). I won't get into details of why I know I have a sensitivity.
  9. by   donmurray
    Lots of things other than gloves have latex in them!
    Powdered latex gloves have been discontinued in most UK hospital settings. Although the powder itself is simple starch, it acts as a vehicle for the allergens in the latex, making the transfer of allergens much greater, increasing the likelihood of a reaction. This would fall into the work-related injury category.
  10. by   KRVRN
    I'm not allergic. I don't want to be.

    I've only been a nurse for 2 years and luckily many of the hospitals around here have gone non-latex with their gloves. Our clean gloves are Nitrile. We still have latex sterile gloves (and non-latex if desired). The latex sterile gloves tend to be more convenient to find so I do use them. But I wash my hands as soon as I take them off to wash the latex off.
  11. by   sjoe
    I didn't use to be, but developed an allergy to latex (skin rash) over the years.
  12. by   abrenrn
    I brought this up because at the lecture I heard, not sure when, probably around 95, the following was said:

    Skin testing for latex allergy at a convention of OR nurses led to seveal anaphylactic reactions among those who did not think they were allergic at all.

    Latex is highly allergenic - with repeated exposure most people will eventually become allergic. It can range from sensitivity, to total disability - because latex is so common in everyday things, once severe allergy basically home bound.

    Powdered gloves are the worst culprits as the latex is aerosolized - spread around more, gets into lungs.

    This MD, from Duke, I think, got his hospital to stop using latex and to stop using any form of powdered gloves (powder ain't great for lungs, whether with latex or not).


    This is what I remember, I'm pretty sure I remember pretty well. My concern is that: most hospitals still use latex routinely; some still use powdered gloves, I've found (and posters confirmed); in most settings I've had no trouble getting vinyl but it was hard on a hospital floor - I have to keep them in my pocket.

    I don't want to use latex gloves because
    a - I don't want to itch, get secondary infections (this happened a couple of times, once ended up in hospital with MRSA infection, on hand, caught working in outpatient setting - eventually convinced docs to let me try topical tx and it went away without 2 wks of IV vanco). I am scrupilous in hand washing but nonintact skin carries that risk.
    b - I don't want my sensitivity to reach the point where I can't go into any environment without latex.

    Last job I tried to work at implied I was a troube maker because I wanted vinyl gloves, didn't I know they were more expensive?

    This was a first for me, I was surprised. I wondered if they thought missed days due to secondary bacterial infections and disability claims were less expensive. Of course I didn't ask. Had I wanted to stay there, I would have ended up buying my own vinyl gloves because the employer had not seen their OSHA required duty.

    Since I'm the one who is injured, I would have taken on the responsibility. Still, I was surprised at this lack of responsibilty on the employers part. Also, they still used powder, which I thought no one did.
    Last edit by abrenrn on Nov 3, '02
  13. by   KaroSnowQueen
    I don't know about hospitals, but many LTC are too cheap to deal with latex allergy. There was a CNA I worked with several years ago who had a definite latex allergy, hands cracked, bleeding,miserable. Admin did not want to deal with it.
    Finally she brought in a dr's note and they would buy 2 or 3 boxes A MONTH for her, kept them locked up and she had to go dig up the central supply person and beg for them. As far as I know, she is still there, and still begging for them. When she runs out, she uses latex and goes around with her hands bleeding the rest of the month.
  14. by   abrenrn
    As per last, I would think this is an issue for OSHA and ADA. Only disability is latex allergy, vinyl gloves very reasonable adjustment. As per OSHA: increased risk of infection through non-intact skin; increased risk of severe, disabling allergy with continued exposure.

    Not sure, not a lawyer.
  15. by   donmurray
    Re cost. In the UK, vinyl gloves cost around the same as latex, it's the nitrile ones which cost more. Vinyl is less protective than latex, however, so go for the nitrile ones if the budget holder will stand for it. Hints about the probable cost of compensation to staff "injured" through management trying to save pennies on gloves can tip the balance in your favour.

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