What purpose does a medical glove serve?
Healthcare is a high-risk profession. The chance of practitioners and patients being exposed to unseen threats is always present. Thus, safety measures aimed at lowering these probabilities encourage medical staff to constantly use disposable gloves as a part of their daily routines.
It is an indisputable fact that medical gloves protect against dangerous chemicals and microbes. Additionally, variations of medical gloves made from different polymers possess special properties for specific purposes. Hence, determining what kind of medical glove should be used in your healthcare business should be an essential part of the risk reduction process.
What are the different glove types?
There are several variants of disposable medical gloves that possess different levels of protection, comfort, and durability. In the medical field, the most-used gloves are made from latex, nitrile, or chloroprene. There are even medical gloves that are made from vinyl. However, because they are more of a last-resort option for the medical practice, this article will not delve into too much detail on that type of disposable glove.
1) Latex gloves
This type of disposable glove comes from a substance found on mature rubber trees. Its ability to perfectly fit a users’ hand while enabling precise and high-tactile sensitivity makes latex-made gloves the go-to disposable option across industries.
Latex gloves provide the highest level of protection against viruses and bacteria. However, against chemicals, it has a weaker barrier compared to other types of gloves.
Latex gloves are cheaper than most of the alternatives in the market. Despite that fact and the advantages of comfort and protection, latex gloves can trigger latex allergies in some users. Consequently, this drawback has forced some offices to opt for disposable chloroprene or nitrile gloves as a substitute.
2) Nitrile gloves
Often referred to as “medical-grade,” nitrile gloves are made of synthetic rubber.
Nitrile gloves are superior to other types when it comes to puncture and chemical resistance, as well as protection from viruses.
Many consider disposable nitrile gloves to be the highest quality substitute for latex gloves. They are the strongest option in terms of durability and long shelf life, while significantly reducing any chance of allergies that come from latex gloves.
3) Chloroprene gloves
This type of disposable glove comes from a rubbery synthetic material best known under the registered trademark Neoprene.
These are similar to nitrile-made gloves in terms of puncture resistance and protection against hazards during treatment. However, the molecular structure is closer to that of natural rubber latex, providing comfort and durability like latex-type disposable gloves.
Chloroprene gloves do not contain the proteins found on latex gloves which often trigger allergic reactions. And while Chloroprene gloves are typically more expensive than latex variants, they are still more affordable than their nitrile counterparts.
Additional Glove Options
There are various types of alternative disposable gloves, many coming with extra specifications that allow users added protection. However, adding extra elements to the usual composition of gloves tends to be pricey when compared to the standard options. Below are the different types of glove options along with their counterparts.
1) Powdered gloves/Powder-free gloves:
Powdered gloves are easier to wear. However, they do tend to be messier. Meanwhile, the lack of residue in powder-free gloves reduces the chances of an allergic reaction, but takes a bit longer to put on.
2) Chlorinated gloves/Non-chlorinated gloves:
Under the powder-free glove option, users can choose to use the chlorinated or non-chlorinated benefit of disposable gloves. This type, as the name suggests, are treated with chlorine instead of the usual powder, resulting in powder-free gloves with all the advantages of a powdered ones. The disadvantage of chlorine-treated gloves are their shorter shelf life, which only lasts for about a year or less if exposed to heat.
Meanwhile, chlorine-free gloves are more akin in color to regular exam gloves but without the odor of chlorine. On the other hand, the gel/silicone coating that makes up this type of glove is more susceptible to triggering allergies than its chlorinated counterpart.
3) Examination gloves and surgical gloves:
These gloves are medical-grade and generally used for actual procedures. Their specific purpose requires that these gloves undergo a sterilization process that reduces the threat from cross-contamination. The only difference between exam gloves and surgical gloves is the latter being of a higher-quality grade that offers more precise sizing and higher tactile sensitivity.
More disposable glove options
There also gloves that present protection for more specific tasks as well as increased comfort:
Chemo-rated gloves: A glove option that adds protection from chemotherapy-specific drugs during use.
Gloves with Aloe Vera: Moisturizes hands while gloves are worn
Gloves with Oatmeal: This glove option assists in the prevention and protection of dry skin
Which is the best glove option?
There is no real answer to which glove option is best. All of the options above are designed for particular users, procedures, and preferences. First-time purchasers should carefully consider the frequency of use and their sensitivity to allergies. Ultimately, the best decision is to have at least one of each glove variant readily available just in case it is necessary.