Developer allergy? : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Film & Processing : One Thread

Has/does anyone out there suffer from an allergy to paper or film developers? What does it look/feel like? I may be developing it and have to invest in that hand coating creme that is suppossed to prevent it. Anybody?

-- Sean yates (, February 08, 1999


I don't know what symptoms allergic reactions to different developers may cause. But I know that many people react to hydroqinone (spelling?) in developers. There are developers now that do not contain this harmful chemical:

For film: Kodak Xtol For paper: Agfa Neutol PLUS

Xtol is well documented by now and there is a lot of information on this film-developer on this site. Agfa Neutol PLUS, a paper-developer, seem to be less known and I haven't tried it myself. The only review I have read (in the German Color-Photo magazine) said that it was an excellent developer, however it produced a slightly cold tone (the opposite of Agfa Neutol WA, which however is an old developer that probably contains hydroqinone). If the motive should have a warm tone, it can be toned afterwards (howabout in that poisonous Rapid Selenium toner :^) Seriously, other toners are much less bad for the health, I think those are sulphur-based.

-- Peter Olsson (, February 09, 1999.

Sean, I don't have that particular allergy myself, but I am familiar with chemical allergic responses. They aren't the same for every one. Most times the "contact dermatitis" shows up as red, itching skin. The problem is usually only where there was contact with the chemical. If the allergy is more severe, other problems may occur, and then its time to see the doctor. Hydroquinone, as was mentioned is one of the likely culprits, but there are others. As for the cream, I have never used it and don't know if it really offers protection. My suggestion is to get surgical gloves. They are thin latex, don't interfere with your sense of touch, aren't that expensive, so they can be thrown away after use, and offer full protection. But definitely do something. Allergies can get worse if permitted to go untreated, and for this removing physical contact is the best choice. If you like darkroom work, it can be a real bummer.

-- Richard Newman (, February 09, 1999.


I have a skin reaction on one small part of my right hand to B&W chemistry. It starts as a dry spot and if contact continues, a red rash developes on the inside of the middle finger of my right hand.

I use a thin medical latex glove on my right hand when I work in the darkroom. The glove is thin enough, that I don't lose much feel and I can use one for two to three sessions. Get the ones that have powder or put some powder in before putting it on!

Works OK for me.

-- Gene Crumpler (, February 13, 1999.

Are you really allergic.?? I went through the same thing about 20 years ago. I wonder if you have red itchy hands that make you crazy? Maybe some yellow stains on your fingernails. But the worst is that damn itch???? It actually used too keep me up at night. The doctor just gave me some expensive cream, and said call me when it is gone. Yeah right... Did'nt work. Ok I fixed it or at least my friend did. I worked in a daily paper at the time, and my buddy said to wash the hands real good in fixer. Yeah, just get the fingers in there till they squeek together when you rub them. That means the developer is off then just wash in water. Never had another problem since, and have processed thousands of rolls and many thousands of prints. Try it.

-- tim swanky (, May 03, 1999.

Contact dermatitis normally shows up first as red, itchy dry skin. Additional exposure can lead to open sores.

The best thing to do, is to wear gloves. I suggest you DO NOT use latex gloves, but if you do, use unpowdered gloves. There are some serious latex allergies that can develop and cause serious problems. There have been some deaths attributed to latex allergies in the medical field.

I prefer Nitrile gloves. You can get them through an industrial safety supplier (check the Yellow Pages).

I do not suggest the use of barrier creams, as they have to be matched very closly with the hazard. Also they have to be reapplied as they wear off, and it is hard to tell when to do so. DO NOT use barrier creams AND gloves together.

For background, my profession is occupational safety and health.

-- Terry Carraway (, May 13, 1999.


I developed a nasty allergy to metol, which is in quite a few developers. I've switched to a paper developer which uses phenidone and hydroquinone, rather than metol and hydroquinone. The phenidone actually oxidizes less rapidly than the metol, and it is also a more active developing agent.

Good advice about the latex gloves -- don't use them! I've used regular thin vinyl gloves with great success. They are thin enough to allow good handling of materials, and they are quite strong as well. I got them at a local science material store. I don't know much about the hand creams, but I've seen them used by a couple of people. Try the vinyl. I got a bag of 100 for about $18.00.

-- Mark Finhill (, May 18, 1999.

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