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When Latex Gloves Can’t Be Used



In our hospitals, there is a hidden danger that is affecting some employees as well as patients. It has nothing to do with bacteria or viruses that could infiltrate the halls of any wing. No, this is something that is meant to provide added protection and sanitation for both patients and employees. Latex gloves are used during medical examinations and procedures. They are meant to prevent contamination, but unfortunately, they can sometimes actually cause more harm than good, depending on the individual. In instances when they do, nitrile gloves can be a satisfactory replacement to ensure both the patient’s and worker’s safety.

The first disposable latex glove was produced in 1964 by Ansell. The milky sap from rubber trees in Southeast Asia and Africa proved to be very beneficial.  In the time since then, latex gloves were the standard for many healthcare facilities because of their ability to prevent contamination. They were applicable in a variety of tasks, which made them very useful in hospital settings where many situations could arise. However, over time, some healthcare professionals noticed that something wasn’t right with latex gloves. Several began to experience a latex allergy.

A latex allergy is one in which an individual is exposed to chemicals in latex gloves or other products and experiences some form of symptoms. These symptoms could range greatly and could include everything from dryness and itching of the skin to symptoms that mimic hay fever. Although extremely rare, those with a serious enough latex allergy may experience a rapid heartbeat, shock, or even death. The reason for many latex allergies is increased exposure. Those in the healthcare system wear latex gloves all of the time, so the likelihood of developing the allergy goes up. Up to ten percent of all medical professionals have some form of a latex allergy.

Luckily, there are ways around latex if need be. Nitrile gloves are increasingly making their rounds in the hospital setting and are offering medical professionals an alternative to latex. Nitrile gloves are made from synthetic rubber and are very resistant to punctures and chemicals that could damage the skin. In fact, nitrile gloves are considered to be some of the strongest and safest gloves out there. Nitrile gloves come in a wide variety of sizes and grades, so it’s important to determine your needs before you choose the right gloves for you. Latex gloves are safe for many, but for those who experience symptoms, nitrile gloves offer a safe alternative to provide care in a healthcare setting.