Latex alternatives


Seven out of ten operating theatre nurses attending this year's Association of PeriOperative Registered Nurses meeting in California reported being ‘very concerned’ about the surgical complications related to glove powder. Powdered gloves are the largest single contributor to latex aeroallergen levels in healthcare facilities but although latex allergies and occupational asthma are very serious, patient complications from powder left behind in surgical wounds can also include adhesions, delays in wound healing, pyrogenic reactions and the fostering of infection. However, alternatives are becoming more easily accessible.

Molnlycke Health Care manufactures Biogel powder-free gloves in both latex and non-latex. Biogel gloves are made from high-tech material that is bonded with a thin inner coating of acrylate terpolymer, which allows the gloves to be easily donned with damp or dry hands without the need for a powder lubricant.

Meanwhile the Microflex Corporation offers a number of powder-free, non-latex gloves, the latest of which, Tranquillity, offers ‘the ideal balance of comfort, protection and tactile sensitivity – a must when everyday use of small instruments demands superior wet and dry grip.’

Another option could be gloves made from guayule, a desert plant native to the south-western United States. Gloves made from guayule latex will retain the flexibility and strength of traditional latex but will, hopefully, not cause the same allergic reactions. However, since there is as yet no data on people's long-term experience with the Yulex glove, the product will carry a warning for now about the potential for allergic reactions.

First published in July 2008

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