Neoprene is the commercial name for a synthetic rubber called polychloroprene. Manufactured by a company called Floprene, Neoprene is a stretchy, waterproof material that retains body heat well. It is used in sporting goods and in the medical industry, including as an alternative to latex gloves. According to Floprene in 2009, Neoprene has been used for more than 70 years. The only dangers of using Neoprene, the company reports, are allergic skin reactions.
According to Floprene, the synthetic rubber has been reported to cause allergic skin reactions in some people. If your skin becomes irritated (red, itchy, dry or peels) from wearing an item made of Neoprene, do not wear the item again. It could result in a more serious skin condition, including a rash or dermatitis.
Itching Skin Rash
Neoprene contains small amounts of chemical allergens, although less so than latex. Neoprene is actually recommended over latex for people with sensitive skin or for those who are prone to skin allergies, according to Ansell Healthcare Products. However, some people do develop itching skin rashes from contact with Neoprene. If you have an itching skin rash, your skin will, of course, itch, appear red and could swell. It is sometimes difficult to determine whether a skin rash is just that or if it is dermatitis, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
According to AAD, contact dermatitis ranges in severity from mild xerotic dermatitis ("dishpan hands") to third-degree chemical burns. Signs include red, itchy, swollen skin with tiny blisters. Treatment involves avoiding contact with the irritating material or using materials that are less irritating. If you are allergic to Neoprene, Polyurethane could be a less irritating option, because it contains no latex proteins or chemical allergens, according to Ansell Healthcare Products.