When it comes to allergies, natural rubber latex disposable gloves typically are the most common. However, allergic reactions are also possible with synthetic glove materials like nitrile butadiene rubber and polyvinyl chloride. While allergies to these materials are uncommon, the chemicals used in production are the culprit.
During the production process of vinyl and nitrile disposable gloves, manufacturers use a variety of substances to turn the ingredients into the final glove material that end users wear. These chemicals are present throughout the process of mixing the PVC and nitrile as well as while turning the material into a glove. When creating vinyl gloves, petroleum is used during the manufacturing process. The petroleum creates naphtha, which is combined with several other chemicals to form ethylene. The ethylene is combined with chlorine and through various processes, it transforms into polyvinyl chloride.
With latex disposable gloves, allergy reactions most commonly stem from proteins within the latex. However, with synthetic materials, the cause of the allergy lies within petroleum. Though not as common, petroleum allergies can occur in some individuals.
Upon contact with the glove material, those individuals with petroleum allergies can experience contact dermatitis. This can lead to hives, skin irritation or redness, and even blistering in some cases. Respiratory effects such as wheezing and coughing can appear with allergic reactions to petroleum gas, but there are no common reactions with petroleum-based gloves.
Indirect Causes of Irritation
Petroleum allergies are rare, but some nitrile and vinyl disposable gloves will cause contact dermatitis. This reaction, however, does not always occur due to the glove material. One common issue that can be present is an irritative substance on the hands. Substances such as residual hand soap, or even scented hand lotion, will not cause irritation on an exposed hand. However, it will be more pronounced in individuals when they have a glove pressing the substance to their skin. This issue is more common when one is wearing a disposable glove that is too small. Gloves that are too tight can create irritation and discomfort, as there is too little space for the skin to breathe inside the material.
Whether it's vinyl, latex, or nitrile, disposable glove users must ensure they are using the proper gloves for the job. This applies to not only the material but also the appropriate size. Additionally, those with allergies present should consider alternative glove materials that will best suit their work environment or application.