In "the old days", the only thing I ever had any reaction to was lith developer - minor dryness and itchiness. When that occurred (after multiple sessions) I started using gloves. At that time I didn't use a pre-wet and don't recall emulsion scratches. Nitrile, non-powdered, examination gloves are what you want. Available from any pharmacist, or online. By the time the sheet is in the fixer you can turn on the light and use self-grip tongs on the edge - no need for two gloves. Glove is for dev and water-stop, naked hand is for everything else.
Since I first started with them I have used gloves any time I have needed to stick fingers in developers etc. It seems only prudent to avoid dry or cracked skin.
Thanks everyone. I tried a two glove approach during my last session. It was cumbersome at best. I didn't scratch anything, but I was constantly rinsing as I was processing one frame at a time and fumbling with faucets, lights, timers, etc. in between. The gloves were vinyl.
Here's an example of where the tongs damaged the emulsion (vertical squiggly mark, top center):
I have more extreme examples.
Am I hearing that once the film is in the fixer and starts to clear, that it's a bit more durable (i.e. less prone to scratching)?
By the way, I'm using the pre-wet to avoid a problem I was having with uneven development. Also, I'm developing with a dilution of Ilford PQ Universal Paper Developer -- not lith developer.
I recently have been exploring the Arista Ortho 2 film in camera and doing tray development. I have not had an issue with scratches yet on the film and am handling the film with nitrile gloved hands only when moving the film from water stop bath to 4x5 hangers and dropping in fix. I am using Kodak Kodafix with hardner to help with the soft film and prevent scratching during washing and rinse in photoflo bath.
I process 6 sheets at a time in a 11x14 tray using a film developing tray purchased thru the Photographers Formulary. Makes it real easy to pick up the tray and move from development, stop, etc..