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Medical Gloves Buying Guide
provided by Medline
Like any healthcare professional, those working in small medical offices know that protection against blood and other bodily fluids is essential for preventing disease and the transmission of illnesses. Medical gloves are one of the first lines of defense, but before you quickly choose a box, you need to know which type is best for how you will be using them.
Medical gloves are made of different polymers, including latex, nitrile rubber vinyl, neoprene and polyisoprene. Each material has its own strengths and benefits, making gloves made from each material best suited to specific types of work.
Latex gloves offer great performance and the best comfort and fit of any glove type. For jobs that require extended wear, latex is a good choice. However, because latex rubber is a natural product, fluctuating raw material costs can cause pricing to change rapidly. Some people also have allergic reactions to latex, which is a major downside to choosing this material. In addition, latex is weak against some chemicals used in medical and industrial settings.
Nitrile rubber gloves have become the go-to alternative to latex. Advances in technology have allowed manufacturers to recreate the feel of a latex glove while eliminating allergy concerns. These types of gloves are more puncture- and abrasion-resistant than latex. And because nitrile gloves are also more resistant to chemicals, they are a good choice for tough medical and industrial jobs, or where chemicals are involved.
Vinyl gloves are the most economical choice for small medical offices. These gloves excel at short-term jobs where comfort is not a concern, frequent glove changes are required and a basic barrier will suffice. Because vinyl gloves are less elastic than latex and nitrile, comfort and fit are sacrificed in this type of glove. However, manufacturers have made advancements to improve the fit and feel, which has allowed multiple generations of vinyl gloves to exist in the market. 3G Vinyl (a patented third generation stretch vinyl) is the most advanced to date. Vinyl gloves have the lowest puncture and chemical resistances.
Neoprene gloves are most often found in the surgical field and are one alternative to latex. They have the benefit of being latex-free and are an economical choice. However, neoprene is the least latex-like alternative.
Polyisoprene is a synthetic rubber formulation also found in some surgical gloves. These gloves have the benefit of being nearly identical to latex gloves in fit and feel. When comfort, protection, and tactile sensitivity are important, polyisoprene gloves offer an edge over neoprene surgical gloves.
More to Consider When Purchasing Medical Gloves
Beyond the gloves material, there are other features to consider. For example, medical gloves are available in powdered and nonpowdered. Powdered gloves have a powder-like substance, such as cornstarch, inserted into the glove to act as a lubricant, making it and easier to put them on. Nonpowdered gloves typically have a polymer coating to help. The disposable glove industry has been trending away from powdered gloves due to concerns about residue contamination.
Another feature that is available for some gloves is a coating of organic aloe, which moisturizes hands while being worn. Hand washing and constant glove wearing can cause skin irritation, which sometimes leads healthcare professionals to stop following proper hand-washing procedures. Natural body heat activates the aloe and hands stay soft and smooth throughout the gloves use.
Medical gloves are an essential part of the uniform for many workers in small healthcare offices. Getting the right gloves for a job is essential and can make all the difference in day-to-day work.