Latex medical gloves: time for a reappraisal.
Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2011;156(3):234-46
Authors: Palosuo T, Antoniadou I, Gottrup F, Phillips P
Many hospitals have implemented policies to restrict or ban the use of devices made of natural rubber latex (NRL) in healthcare as precautionary measures against the perceived risk of NRL allergy. Changes in glove technology, progress in measuring the specific allergenic potential of gloves and a dramatic decrease in the prevalence of NRL allergies after interventions and education prompted us to revisit the basis for justifiable glove selection policies. The published Anglophone literature from 1990 to 2010 was reviewed for original articles and reviews dealing with the barrier and performance properties of NRL and synthetic gloves and the role of glove powder. The review shows that NRL medical gloves, when compared with synthetic gloves, tend to be stronger, more flexible and better accepted by clinicians. The introduction of powder-free gloves has been associated with reductions in protein content and associated allergies. Recently, new methods to quantify clinically relevant NRL allergens have enabled the identification of gloves with low allergenic potential. The use of low-protein, low-allergenic, powder-free gloves is associated with a significant decrease in the prevalence of type I allergic reactions to NRL among healthcare workers. Given the excellent barrier properties and operating characteristics, dramatically reduced incidences of allergic reactions, availability of specific tests for selection of low-allergen gloves, competitive costs and low environmental impact, the use of NRL gloves within the hospital environment warrants reappraisal.
PMID: 21720169 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]