Occupational contact allergy caused by rubber gloves--nothing has changed

Contact Dermatitis. 2012 Sep;67(3):149-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0536.2012.02139.x. Epub 2012 Jul 5.


Background: Allergic contact dermatitis caused by rubber gloves is not infrequent, and has almost exclusively been attributed to contact sensitization to accelerators. Thiurams have been the most frequent allergens, followed by dithiocarbamates.

Objectives: To describe the current allergen pattern in patients with occupational allergic contact dermatitis caused by rubber gloves.

Methods: This study was a retrospective analysis of data from the Information Network of Departments of Dermatology (IVDK), 2002-2010.

Results: Of 93 615 patients patch tested in the IVDK, 3448 both suffered from occupational dermatitis and were tested because of suspected glove allergy. Among these, healthcare workers were the largest group (n = 1058). Of all occupational dermatitis patients, 13% were sensitized to thiurams, 3.5% to dithiocarbamates, 3% to mercaptobenzothiazole and/or its derivatives, and 0.4% to thioureas. Positive test reactions to 1,3-diphenylguanidine were seen in 3.0%. Reaction frequencies varied with the years, but showed no uniform time trend.

Conclusions: As compared with a former IVDK data analysis (1995-2001), there was no change in sensitization pattern and no decline in sensitization frequencies. This is in line with data from the literature. Particularly in healthcare, there is a need for (i) allergen declaration on the glove package, and (ii) gloves with reduced accelerator content.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / etiology*
  • Dermatitis, Occupational / etiology*
  • Female
  • Gloves, Protective / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Latex Hypersensitivity / chemically induced*
  • Male
  • Patch Tests
  • Retrospective Studies