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Keywords:

  • Rubber gloves;
  • contact urticaria;
  • scratch chamber and prick tests

Latex surgical gloves may cause contact urticaria and serious allergic reactions in sensitized persons, but the frequency of this allergy is not known. In the present study, 512 hospital employees were screened with a latex-glove scratch-chamber test: 23 (4.5%) were suspected and 15 (2.9%) were proven allergic with latex prick and use tests. All of them were doctors and nurses, and 12 had had contact urticaria but no special symptoms. They could continue their routine work using cotton or vinyl undergloves or special latex surgical gloves. Atopy, hand eczema and surgical work seemed to be predisposing factors. In operating units, 7.4% of the doctors and 5.6% of the nurses were allergic; the frequency was lower in non-operating units and among laboratory personnel. The high frequency of latex glove allergy, especially in operating units, focuses attention on the quality of surgical latex gloves