OBJECTIVES: Glove wearing during patient treatment has been central to dental surgery infection control for over 15 years. However, little is known about the cutaneous effects of glove wearing on the hands of dental healthcare workers (DHCWs). The objective of this project was to assess the hand skin health of DHCWs before and after wearing gloves of two types and to compare this with a control group of non-DHCWs. METHODS: Following a mailing to all dentists in the West of Scotland, 50 DHCWs who wore gloves during dental treatment procedures for a minimum of 8h daily for at least 4 days per week were invited to participate in the project. The control group comprised 25 subjects who did not routinely use surgical or examination gloves. Hands were assessed by clinical examination and by transepidermal water loss at baseline, 1 month and 3 months. RESULTS: Of the 50 DHCWs, 26 wore a non-powdered latex glove (Microtouch Powder-free: Johnson and Johnson, Arligton, TX, US), and 24 wore a nitrile glove (Hartalega SDN BHD, Malaysia) from the time of the baseline examination until the 3-month examination. No differences were observed in hand skin health between the control group and the DHCWs at baseline, nor between those wearing the latex or nitrile gloves during the 3 month period of the study. CONCLUSION: It is concluded that the hand skin health of the DHCWs examined were no different from those of a control group of non-DHCWs, and that the wearing of the two types of gloves used in the 3 month study had no significant effect.