Call for switch to powder-free latex gloves

Latex allergies and related asthma in healthcare professionals can be prevented if the NHS swaps to powder-free, low-protein latex gloves, says the Royal College of Physicians (RCP)

Powder-free latex gloves contain around a tenth of the latex protein found in powdered gloves and have been shown to reduce the amount and severity of symptoms.

Latex allergy is an occupational hazard for healthcare workers. One in six is affected, with typical reactions including rash, itchy eyes and sneezes, as well as the more severe chest tightness, shortness of breath and anaphylactic shock.

National and local guidance is needed to ensure provision of the powder-free gloves, according to a guideline issued last week by the RCP and occupational health experts NHS Plus.

However, the RCP advises against an outright ban of latex gloves, as some clinicians prefer them for technical reasons.

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