Rubber Rubbing You the Wrong Way?

Rubber in mousepads and wetsuits might make you itchy

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A study from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden finds that repeated exposure to certain rubber products can cause allergic skin reactions in people.

Skin allergies lead to almost six million doctor visits each year and more than 3,700 contact allergens have been identified.

The Swedish study discovered how skin contact with rubber can lead to an allergic reaction and the development of "isothiocyanates" on the skin.

These particular allergens are absorbed into the outermost layer of skin after repeated exposure to rubber. They are formed when the skin comes into contact with a substance called diphenylthiourea found in rubber products such as computer mouse pads, wetsuits and knee protectors.

While reports of this type of allergic reaction are not common, this is perhaps due to the difficulty of confirming such a reaction. Further studies are being done to test patients with suspected allergy to this rubber component by using isothiocyanate on the skin to detect allergic reaction.

Learning how to better identify allergic substances in many commonly used products is the first step in protecting people from exposure.

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Review Date: 
January 17, 2011
Last Updated:
January 17, 2011