Nitrile medical grade gloves continue to gain popularity in healthcare settings. You can credit their rise in popularity to their strength and cost-effectiveness compared to their vinyl, and they do not expose you to the allergens associated with latex gloves. However, not all nitrile gloves are made equal, and some are safer for medical procedures than others.
Not all nitrile gloves are medical grade. Nitrile gloves are medical-grade only if they meet the required strength levels to protect users against blood-borne pathogens. Nitrile gloves for healthcare applications must have an Acceptable Quality Level (AQL) of 2.5 or less for FDA approval.
This question sounds complex and multifaceted. So, let’s get into the details and discuss the differences between medical-grade nitrile exam gloves and industrial nitrile gloves. I’ll also give you tips on choosing medical-grade nitrile gloves.
What Are Nitrile Gloves?
Nitrile gloves are petroleum by-products produced synthetically. You will find nitrile medical-grade gloves a perfect alternative to latex and vinyl options. They are more durable, stronger, and more resistant to puncture. You will find them wearable for extended periods without problems.
Latex-free, powder-free nitrile gloves also stand out for their resistance to oils, acids, and chemicals. Besides, many professionals who consider latex options a big issue will find nitrile gloves non-allergic, flexible, and highly touch-sensitive.
Nitrile Medical Grade Gloves vs. Industrial Nitrile Gloves
Gloves are arguably the most common personal protective equipment available across most industries. However, gloves are different for various functions, and nitrile gloves are no exception. It is also essential to note that not all types of gloves are suitable for all applications.
I suggest that you choose your glove type carefully. You’ll need to match your glove type to the intended function to maximize cost-effectiveness and achieve the right level of protection against infections.
So, that brings us to the difference between industrial gloves and medical-grade examination gloves.
Nitrile Industrial or Mechanical Grade Gloves
Nitrile gloves are ideal for applications involving the extensive handling of solvents and other harsh chemicals. They are common in many homes and industrial fields since they are suitable for applications such as:
- Beauty services
- Janitorial and tattoo shops
- Chemical production industries
Apart from being resistant to chemicals, nitrile industrial gloves are also pretty resistant to puncture and offer the ultimate protection to various personnel who handle dangerous and sharp objects. These could include:
Notably, nitrile industrial-grade gloves are thicker than their medical-grade counterparts. This feature gives them the ability to withstand maximum protection against sharp objects while offering the necessary flexibility.
Nitrile Medical Grade Gloves
Nitrile medical grade gloves are the other category of nitrile gloves. I will focus on these gloves in the rest of this article. Anyone who comes into contact with body fluids when caring for people or animals must use medical gloves in their operations.
You will find medical-grade nitrile gloves applicable in all areas with blood-borne pathogens and other environmental contaminants. Medical gloves are popular in:
- Nursing homes
- Dental facilities
Also known as nitrile medical exam gloves, these pieces of personal protective equipment were initially designed specifically for non-surgical procedures. However, they are now common in surgical rooms, medical diagnostic laboratories, chemo centers, examination rooms, and research labs.
They are necessary for areas with high-risk exposure levels and will immensely reduce the chances of blood-borne pathogen infections.
Nitrile medical examination gloves must meet the set-out standards and requirements for FDA approval. Among the top requirements is their strength rating. Medical exam gloves should be strong and thick enough to protect individuals from blood-borne pathogens.
Thus, the manufacturing of medical-grade nitrile gloves involves careful testing to meet all the guidelines. They must have an AQL rating of less than 2.5 and the required stretchability. Moreover, nitrile medical-grade examination gloves must be leak-proof.
Other Tips on How To Choose Nitrile Gloves
The following tips will also help you get suitable nitrile gloves for your applications:
Sterile or Non-Sterile
Sterile medical gloves, often used for surgical applications, must meet the required AQL rating for approval by FDA. While non-sterile gloves can have acceptable quality levels of up to 2.5, the requirement is more stringent for sterile options.
Sterile gloves with an AQL rating of 1.5 or under are considerably safer. However, they are slightly more costly than their non-sterile counterparts. The McKesson Confiderm® STR Medium Sterile Pair Nitrile Glove is an example you could use in top-notch sterility procedures. It comes in an incredible range of sizes for various fits.
Non-sterile gloves, also known as medical-grade exam gloves, are handy for various caregiving and laboratory applications, but they’re not suitable for surgical or dental procedures. They offer sufficient protection against viruses and other pathogens. A good example is the reliable LifeStar™ EC Small NonSterile Nitrile Gloves.
Choosing the right nitrile glove size maximizes comfort, agility, safety, and fit. Too loose gloves are susceptible to falling off and could expose you to contamination or possible infection. On the other hand, too tight gloves could tear off and increase your risk of exposure.
Most gloves come in various sizes. For example, the Purple Nitrile Max™ X-Large NonSterile Nitrile Glove comes in three sizes:
You can choose what will work well for you and your team. If you have a team, though, it’s always best to get several sizes.
All I ever saw were white latex gloves during my medical visits to hospitals as a kid. However, this is no longer the case. Gloves now come in various unique and fun colors, and they offer different materials for people who may have a latex allergy. One advantage of this feature is that you can liven up your working space by choosing your favorite colors.
Secondly, different shades can easily distinguish glove sizes if you choose different colors for each size used in your facility. Color-coding avoids wastage, and it can also help minimize cross-contamination.
Powdered or Non-Powdered Gloves
Powdered medical exam gloves were pretty popular up to 2016. Manufacturers used powder on gloves to help minimize friction and absorb moisture. However, this stopped in 2016 with the new FDA guideline banning the use of powder on gloves. The latest trend is to coat or chlorinate nitrile medical grade exam gloves with polymers to help you put on and remove them.
So, if you are worried about sweat or easy removal, opt for a glove with an interior coating.
Not all nitrile gloves are medical grade. Thus, you need to choose nitrile gloves for medical use carefully. When selecting your go-to nitrile gloves, you should consider the AQL rating, sterility, tensile strength, comfort, size, and color.
If you’re looking for reliable gloves to keep stocked in your medical practice, look no further than our collection here at Allied USA. With a variety of sizes and styles to choose from, we’ve made it easier than ever for you to find the supplies you need on hand. Browse our selection today!
- FDA: Medical Gloves
- FDA: Medical Gloves Guidance Manual
- Federal Register: Banned Devices; Powdered Surgeon’s Gloves, Powdered Patient Examination Gloves, and Absorbable Powder for Lubricating a Surgeon’s Glove
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Latex Allergy A Prevention Guide