OBJECTIVES: To determine the prevalence and risk factors for symptoms related to gloves, and the relation between symptoms and immunological evidence of type 1 hypersensitivity to latex in a United Kingdom health care setting. METHODS: A cross sectional survey was carried out among 773 employees at a British hospital. A self administered questionnaire was used to collect information about symptoms related to gloves and associated risk factors in a sample of hospital staff who were likely to use gloves at work. All of those who reported symptoms suggestive of type 1 hypersensitivity were invited for skin prick testing and measurement of specific IgE to latex (RAST). RESULTS: Among the 372 responders, symptoms related to gloves were common, 49% reported redness or itching of the hands, 14% reported urticaria, and 6% reported chest tightness. However, the frequency of positive skin prick tests and RASTs was surprisingly low (only two subjects tested positive). CONCLUSIONS: These findings indicate the need for caution in the interpretation of symptoms related to gloves even when they seem to suggest type 1 hypersensitivity.
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