How Likely is an Allergic Reaction to Vinyl Gloves?

Donald Gillespie All, Product, Unigloves, Vinyl, allergies
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Here at Unigloves, we manufacture a range of disposable safety gloves using a number of different materials. This variety of materials gives our clientele the freedom to select the perfect glove for their application, safe in the knowledge that they are providing their workers with the highest quality in safety gloves, every time.

Vinyl gloves are a popular choice for the food industry, as well as for many other applications, given their affordability, and the fact that they represent no risk when it comes to latex allergies.  But what about allergic reactions to vinyl gloves?

Here, we reveal the truth around the possibility of an allergic reaction to vinyl gloves and uncover their many benefits.

Why choose vinyl gloves?

Vinyl gloves are one of the most popular safety glove varieties available. They’re made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which, when mixed with plasticiser, makes the material flexible and elastic, and suitable for producing disposable safety gloves. The PVC material is not only waterproof, but protects hands against a number of potential hazards, including low-level chemicals, detergents, dyes, bodily fluids, and more.

Because PVC is an inexpensive material to produce, vinyl gloves are generally less expensive than their latex or nitrile alternatives. This makes them a popular choice in many domestic and industrial applications where regular donning and removal is required, such as in hairdressing, housekeeping, care home work, cleaning and janitorial work, and food processing.

Unigloves produces high-quality disposable vinyl gloves which meet several testing standards, including:

  • EN1186: Making them safe for contact with food products
  • EN455: The European standard for medical gloves
  • EN374: The standard for chemical and micro-organism penetration

Another factor that makes vinyl gloves a preferred choice in many workplaces is that they are latex-free, meaning they are safe for use in workplaces where latex allergies and sensitisation are deemed a risk to workers and those they may come into contact with. But what about an allergic reaction to vinyl gloves? Read on to find out more.

How likely is an allergic reaction to vinyl gloves?

An allergic reaction to vinyl gloves themselves is almost unheard of. As a synthetic glove, they pose no risk of the allergic reactions and sensitisation related to natural rubber latex (NRL) gloves. Furthermore, vinyl gloves from Unigloves are both powder free and accelerator-free.

A lady scratching her hand due to an irritation caused by wearing vinyl gloves.

Powder free: Powder free gloves do not contain traces of powder inside the glove. This powder, although making it easier to don and remove gloves, can cause contamination of materials and surfaces in the workplace and in some cases, irritation to wearers. Powdered gloves are also the number one risk factor for airborne contaminants in the workplace, which is why powder free gloves are often preferred by many of our clients at Unigloves.

Accelerator-free: Many glove allergies can be attributed to chemical allergies or sensitivity caused by the chemical accelerators used in the manufacturing of some gloves, including some nitrile gloves. The manufacturing of accelerator-free gloves means that no chemical accelerators are used, and therefore, they do not pose this particular risk to wearers.

If an allergic reaction to vinyl gloves occurs in your workplace, this can almost certainly be attributed to contact urticaria – a skin irritation which is generally caused by sweating and exacerbated by a lack of ventilation inside the glove. All waterproof gloves, including vinyl gloves, have the potential to cause contact urticaria, however, moisture-wicking fabric liners may reduce the risk for people who are highly sensitive and susceptible to contact urticaria and conditions such as eczema.

What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction to vinyl gloves?

Contact urticaria is an immediate, localised reaction which can result in swelling and redness of the skin after contact with the offending material or substance.  If a reaction does occur when wearing disposable vinyl gloves, it is often mild and can be addressed by removing the gloves, washing the hands, and allowing them to dry.

Dry skin caused by a reaction to wearing vinyl gloves.

Another potential cause of allergic reaction or sensitisation when wearing vinyl gloves can be leakage. Although vinyl gloves protect the hands against a range of irritants and chemicals, they can begin to leak if worn for too long and should not be used when contact with stronger chemicals is likely. Leakage can allow these irritants to come into contact with the skin, which is why vinyl gloves should be replaced regularly, and be immediately removed and replaced if torn or damaged.

What are the alternatives to vinyl gloves?

Vinyl gloves from Unigloves are both accelerator-free and powder free, meaning they are a great disposable glove solution for those with sensitivity to latex or chemical accelerators. However, they are also less robust than some of their alternatives and they are not recommended for use with fatty foods and oils, or where strong chemicals are involved. Latex and nitrile gloves are two of the more robust disposable glove options available, should vinyl gloves not be suitable for your application.

Nitrile gloves being worn by a vet injecting medicine into a calf's ear.

Latex: Latex gloves are extremely elastic and provide users with a high level of touch sensitivity and dexterity. They are often referred to as medical grade, and have traditionally been a favourite in healthcare fields, dentistry, tattooing and other applications where a second-skin feel is important. Due to the possibility of latex allergies and sensitisation, however, the Health and Safety Executive of the United Kingdom recommends avoiding their use in hospitals and healthcare environments. Low-protein, powder free latex gloves are one solution available in the Unigloves range, which reduce the risk of allergic reactions and sensitivity for wearers and those they come into contact with.

Nitrile: Nitrile gloves are made from a synthetic material which is not only free from latex, but is generally stronger, more chemical resistant, and less prone to tearing and puncturing than both latex and vinyl gloves. The workhorse of the disposable glove realm, nitrile gloves offer superior levels of protection to wearers and are a favourite in applications which involve working alongside abrasive materials and certain chemicals. Many nitrile gloves are made using chemical accelerators, which can result in sensitivity and reactions for some wearers. To provide the highest level of protection and comfort to our clients, Unigloves offers several accelerator-free nitrile glove varieties.

Unigloves Unicare vinyl gloves range

Any allergic reaction to vinyl gloves is extremely rare, and far less common than latex allergies and chemical sensitivity caused by accelerators, which is why many of our clients prefer our vinyl gloves range. Our unique Unicare vinyl gloves are accelerator-free, powder free, and latex-free, and are made with a low-friction inner polymer coating that allows for smooth donning and removal. With tapered wrists for a better fit and beaded cuffs for added strength and tear resistance, Unicare vinyl gloves offer you exceptional levels of comfort and protection.

Unigloves gloves being worn my a beautician performing a pedicure for a customer.

We’ve been manufacturing disposable safety gloves for over 30 years, and offer our clients the highest quality in vinyl, latex, and nitrile glove varieties, to help you select the perfect glove for any application. To find out more about our glove ranges, glove allergies, and plenty more useful information about selecting the best glove for your workplace, please take a look at some of our other blog articles.

You can browse the full Unigloves Unicare range online or download a copy of our product guide for the full range of Unigloves disposable safety gloves.

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