Medical gloves are among the most important personal protective equipment to prevent the spread of illnesses or infections.
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about medical gloves that could be helpful.
What different types of materials are used for medical gloves?
Chloroprene is a synthetic rubber material commonly used to manufacture medical gloves. It has similar qualities to latex but is safer to use for those with a latex allergy.
Gloves made from chloroprene offer reliable protection. They are strong, durable, and resistant to tears, cuts, and punctures. Chloroprene gloves have great elasticity.
Chloroprene gloves are also resistant to high temperatures, acids, alcohols, and other harsh chemicals. They will shield against bodily fluids and corrosive materials, making them essential for health care workers.
Chloroprene gloves provide a snug fit that still provides touch sensitivity and full dexterity. Chloroprene is softer than other materials like nitrile, so many people prefer them for comfort.
Other names for this type of gloves are neoprene or polychloroprene, but they are all the same material.
Not many people know that latex is a naturally occurring material. Most latex gloves are created using commercial latex, which is natural latex that has undergone a process of coagulation, blending, and drying.
Latex gloves offer proven protection against bloodborne pathogens, which is why they were the primary choice for medical gloves for decades. They are also quite tactile, and many surgeons still prefer the sensitivity of latex gloves.
However, latex allergies are fairly common and can result in anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening. This has led many medical facilities like Johns Hopkins to stop using latex gloves and latex-based medical equipment.
Some solvents commonly used in laboratories and medical facilities can be abrasive and corrode latex gloves. So there are some instances in which latex gloves are not the right choice, but when allergies and harsh chemicals are not issues, latex can still be helpful protective gloves.
Nitrile gloves are a synthetic material created in response to the rise in cases of latex allergies. Made from durable rubber, nitrile gloves do not include the plant proteins that are the main cause of latex allergies.
They offer reliable protection from harsh chemicals and bodily fluids and can last a long time.
While nitrile gloves are durable and highly resistant to punctures, they are not as fitted as latex or chloroprene. This means wearers experience less dexterity and touch sensitivity with nitrile gloves.
Nitrile gloves do not offer as much protection from bacteria or viruses as other options.
When should medical gloves be used?
You should wear medical gloves whenever your hands come in contact with bodily fluids, potentially contaminated items, or dangerous chemicals.
Medical procedures should always be performed with medical gloves, but there are other industries in which medical gloves should also be used, such as beauty and tattoo services, caregiving, and food preparation.
The primary purpose of exam gloves is to prevent transmission or cross-contamination between caregivers and patients during any non-surgical medical procedure. This means each pair of medical gloves is used on a single patient for a single procedure and then disposed of properly.
Medical gloves should be worn during any exam in which there is a reasonable possibility of coming in contact with bodily fluids, including blood, saliva, respiratory secretions, urine or feces, or vomit. They should also be worn if there is a possibility of contaminated skin or equipment.
Surgical gloves are worn to protect both the surgical team and the patient undergoing the operation. However, surgical gloves have been sterilized in preparation for more invasive medical procedures before they are sealed.
Certain procedures accompany the use of sterile surgical gloves. It is common to “double glove” with two layers of sterile surgical gloves to further prevent the possibility of transmission of infectious diseases.
Because of the chemicals used in chemotherapies, specialized nitrile gloves should be worn by medical professionals administering the treatment and sometimes the patients.
Which type of medical glove is best to use?
There is not an all-purpose answer to this question. The type of glove you should use will vary depending on the specific task and situation. Knowing the characteristics and pros/cons of each material and type of glove can help you make informed decisions about which type of glove is best to use.
How do I make sure medical gloves fit properly?
Many brands of medical gloves will provide a sizing chart or guide for reference. Gloves should fit snugly without constricting movement or stretching too much. The width of your palm and the length of your fingers are the most obvious measurements when choosing glove sizes.
If your fingertips don’t reach the end of the glove or if your dexterity is restricted, you probably need a different size of glove.
What should I do before and after using medical gloves?
Wearing gloves is no replacement for proper handwashing. Before putting on gloves, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. Make sure your gloves fit properly before starting any medical exam or procedure.
If a glove rips or tears, immediately remove and dispose of the glove and replace it with a new one. Never reuse or wash gloves. Remember that a single pair of gloves should be used on a single patient for a single procedure.
When you are finished and remove the gloves, wash your hand again or use an alcohol-based hand rub.
Are powdered gloves still used?
Some medical gloves, particularly latex gloves, are manufactured and packaged with a powder to help absorb latex materials and make gloves more comfortable. In most cases, the powder is simply cornstarch, but can become a carrier for allergens or other possible contaminants.
As of December 2016, the FDA has banned powdered gloves because of the risk the powdered gloves pose to health care workers and patients alike.
Do medical gloves expire?
Nothing lasts forever, and medical gloves are no exception. The FDA does not require manufacturing companies to put an expiration date on their glove products, but many still do.
Latex gloves have a general shelf life of three years, while nitrile or chloroprene gloves have a bit longer shelf life of 5 years. That being said, gloves should be stored in certain conditions to prevent damage or deterioration.
Store all gloves in their original packaging until they are ready to be used. Protect stored gloves from excess moisture, sunlight, or ozone to ensure functionality and a longer shelf life.
Order Medical Gloves from Allied USA
Ordering your medical supplies from Allied USA means you are guaranteed quality products with excellent service. With a focus on sustainability and integrity, Allied USA is committed to providing a broad portfolio of solutions to protect the environment and human health.