OK, So lets talk about epoxy allergies

Anyone have it?

What does it look like?

Does it bear any resemblance to a poison oak rash? (poison ivy to you east coasters)

What helps it go away? (to treat the rash)

How can I prevent it?


I am currently using latex gloves with a canister mask. What else is reccommended? 

If you haven't guessed, I've got two 3/4" spots of rash on my left forearm. I'm allergic to many pollens, grasses & trees and am susceptible to poison oak. 

(Pretty bad for a Park Ranger)


12 replies:

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RE: OK, So lets talk about epoxy allergies

From what I know it is a sensitivity to over exposure and once you become sensitized it needs to be avoided. Heres some information by West Systems you might like reading. Breathing the dust from sanding can be more trouble. Vacuum, clean and protect yourself.

Your rash sounds more like poison oak that might spread in a week.


RE: OK, So lets talk about epoxy allergies

Is it possible that you are allergic to the Latex gloves ? I hear that it is quite common, although I know nothing about the symptoms.

I hope it works out for you...bummer.

RE: OK, So lets talk about epoxy allergies

After some research, I'm back at sqare one.

The "Allergic Dermatitis" reaction one may have is identical to that of poison oak/ivy. It is the same biological reaction of your body defending itself against an irritan/allergen. 

 Allergies to epoxy resin only occur with 2% of the population, but increases with those who already have allergies or have sensitive skin.

I am not allergic to latex, I have been tested before and this rash is not where the gloves are, it is farther up my arm where it was unprotected.


This is the first time I have hoped that I have poison oak. I'd rather treat that than quit building my kayak.


Thanks for the info and encouragement. Follow the safety procedures and hope that you don't have to question this yourself.

RE: OK, So lets talk about epoxy allergies

Are you wearing a long sleeve shirt? If not.... I'd recommend it. A localized skin rash from epoxy results from direct contact.... red, itchy.... goes away after awhile, once you've had one, it's more likely to recur. If you are wearing short sleeves, it is really easy to accidently brush your arm against a surface that is coated with wet epoxy (or to accidently touch a gloved hand to a skin surface before you think about what you're doing) and not notice until the rash develops..... having learned that lesson, I always wear a long sleeve shirt in addition to gloves when working with the stuff....

Julie K.

RE: OK, So lets talk about epoxy allergies

I am not sure what they are really called, but I know them as "Bunny Suits".  They are light weight paper type jump suit.  I discovered them working in sterile conditions (hospital OR), and know most fibreglass suppliers sell them.  They protect everything but your face and hands.  Here is a link for some http://www.shopmaninc.com/safety.html 


RE: OK, So lets talk about epoxy allergies

For me the rash was somewhat like poison ivy, but without the ooozing blisters. I get poison ivy pretty bad. This was just large patches of raised skin that itched. They didn't itch very much unles you touched it and then it itched like crazy. But the epoxy rash lasted longer than poison ivy. I didn't realize I was alergic until after I had done some unprotected sanding. I was on antibiotics for six months trying to clear up the sinus infection I got from it. The alergy didn't appear until mid way into my second boat. Now when I am working on a boat I use gloves, full tyvec suit with hood, full tyvec head-cover mask and full resperator. If ambient temperature is anywhere above freezing I sweat my butt off in all that. Of course to work with epoxy the temp is always higher so I just tough it out and loose weight. Oh the things we do for our love of boats?

RE: OK, So lets talk about epoxy allergies

Good news!


it's poison Oak!


Thanks all for the advice and reccomendations.

RE: OK, So lets talk about epoxy allergies

Ranger, sounds exactly like what I get when I get a little careless with my epoxy.  My recommendation is a tyvek suit.  Not a lot of fun to wear, but it helps out a lot. 

I have also worn saran wrap around my forearms over long sleeve t-shirts and that usually helps prevent things if I haven't already "flared up" and started getting the rashes.

Either option makes me sweat like crazy though.


RE: OK, So lets talk about epoxy allergies

What is a skin allergy? A skin allergy is a reaction caused by a substance that comes in contact with the skin, thus a skin allergy. Some types of contact skin allergies are dermatitis, eczema and hives. Contact dermatitis develops when the skin comes in contact with something that a person is allergic to.


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RE: OK, So lets talk about epoxy allergies

I am allergic to so many things that I do the full tyvek suit, full face respirator, and I have a 2-phase glove system:  I wear a pair of Rubbermaid kitchen type gloves that come most of the way up your arm (goes under Tyvek suit sleeves), then put a pair of disposable gloves over top - that way I just peel off the disposable ones (which often tear on sharp objects) when I'm done with the messy part and have a nice clean pair of gloves underneath.  I also wear a shower cap if I'm sanding to avoid most of the hair-dust mess.  I know this is probably overkill, and is hot in warm weather, but I've never had a problem and I normally am allergic to most things.  Plus I can just take off all the nasty epoxy/dust/dirt covered suit and gloves and leave them in my work area and not drag it all into the house to change. 

P.S.  If I'm doing filleting work I put on two pairs of disposable gloves, peel the yucky fillet-goop covered ones off after I'm done filleting and then have a clean pair underneath to continue with any other clear epoxy coats or touch up/clean up without smearing goop everywhere.  Works great. 

P.P.S. Ranger, I'm glad it's "just" poison oak - a much better diagnosis for future boat building efforts!

RE: OK, So lets talk about epoxy allergies

I'm a little senstive to resin. If I get it on my skin for any length of time, it starts to itch. 

In general, I have an old long sleeved shirt I wear when sanding or fiberglassing. along with a hat (I hate getting fiberglass out of my hair) and latex gloves. I put one glove on, and pull it as far as I can down my wrist and then put a second glove on but don't pull it down. Whenever my hand gets messy with resin, I can remove the outer glove easily and replace it. I've gone through two or three boxes of 100 gloves while making my Petrel. I also wear those big goggles when I'm sanding.

I have a small laundry room inside the garage door and when I get done sanding or putting on resin, I put all my clothes in the washing machine and turn it on. Then I go and take a shower.

I had an old respirator with the circular canisters, and when I wore it for more than an hour it started being really uncomfortable, so I had a tendency to take it off half way through a resin job. I went to the local hardware store and bought one of the new 3M respirators...I've seen them at every hardware store I've visited. It has a better head support strap, is little lighter and I can wear it for a long time and forget I have it on. I bought the pack of six extra filters and after a long day of sanding fiberglass, I change them out. 

So far, I've only had a few minor bouts of resin itch.

Tomorrow I put the last coat of varnish on my Petrel and so I'm out of the fiberglass business for a while. 


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