In the critical environments within healthcare, the humble disposable glove is absolutely key in the fight against infection and cross-contamination. They not only protect the healthcare workers and patients against dangerous bacteria and viruses they prevent the spread of infection and disease. In this article, we’ll look at the various types of gloves and their applications.
All medical gloves must carry a manufactured date a use by date and display conformity to the relevant EU or ISO standards.
Latex gloves have been widely used in the medical field for decades due to the comfort and elasticity of the product. Unfortunately, as the use of latex increased so did the prevalence of latex allergies and prompted the need for latex-free options. Initially, latex gloves were produced with a powdered inner lining which improved comfort and ease of donning but again caused irritation and allergic reactions with some users. Needless to say, most medical-grade gloves produced now are powder-free. Whilst latex powder-free examination gloves are still widely used, due to the oral nature of dental work, most Dentists now use Nitrile.
Blue nitrile powder-free gloves are obviously latex-free but have traditionally been not so supple and more difficult to don and wear. Manufacturing processes have now improved the quality of Nitrile gloves, producing a thinner, stronger and more stretchy material. As a result, Nitrile gloves are now the most commonly used in dental practices.
Nitrile gloves are also more durable and resistant to chemicals and are the ideal choice for anyone handling these substances.
The nitrile gloves box will usually contain 100 ambidextrous gloves but can also be packed 200 or even 300 to save space and reduce environmental impact
Sometimes referred to as clear vinyl powder-free gloves due to their opaque characteristic, these tend to be a ‘looser’ fit versus the latex or nitrile. Vinyl powder-free gloves 100 pack have the advantage of being relatively inexpensive to manufacture but are made from a petroleum-based film so subject to oil price fluctuations. Due to their low cost and lower protection levels, vinyl gloves are commonly used in non-hazardous environments where a simple barrier against potential infection is required.
Vinyl gloves are less durable and far less flexible than latex and nitrile and offer limited protection against chemical or biomedical exposure. When vinyl gloves are stretched or flexed, the individual molecules separate, and the integrity of the protective barrier can be compromised.
Due to their low cost and low protection levels, vinyl gloves are commonly used in non-hazardous and low-infection environments.
Disposable surgical gloves can be latex or nitrile but the key characteristic is that they are individually packed in sterile pouches. This ensures that their clinical integrity is not compromised prior to any surgical procedures where infection control is absolutely critical. These gloves tend to have a shorter shelf life and will need to be discarded once use by date has expired.