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Q: We've heard that oil-based hand creams should not be used when wearing latex gloves. In our practice, we use latex gloves many times each day. Can you please elaborate on exactly what substances we should use to keep our hands from drying and cracking, but that don't compromise the protective barrier of our gloves?

A: Avoid mineral oil and petroleum, common components of hand lotions and other lubricants, because both cause rapid deterioration of latex. Other moisturizers containing sodium lauryl sulfate as their active ingredient work well without compromising the latex barrier. 1

You may also wish to try handwashing products that combat dry skin. There are a wide variety of antimicrobial lotion soaps and alcohol gel sanitizers which have a very low potential for skin irritation.2 You may think of alcohol-based products as drying, but hand gels containing 60% ethyl alcohol have been shown to have no drying effects on normal or dry skin and no significant adverse effect on latex gloves. 2

1. Neiburger EJ. A close look at alcohol gel as an antimicrobial sanitizing agent. Am J Infect Control. 1999; 27:332-338.
2. Jones RD, Jampani H, Mulberry G, Rizer R. Moisturizing alcohol hand gels for surgical hand preparation. AORN J. 2000; 71:584, 587, 589-590.

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