Disposable gloves are an absolute necessity for those within the medical field to avoid contamination, injuries, as well as for comfort and hygiene. Gloves provide a protective barrier whether that is between the user and patient or in laboratories.
What are Nitrile gloves?
Nitrile gloves are a powder free glove. Proven to be more durable and resistant to chemicals. As such, these gloves are the ideal choice for anyone who has to handle potentially hazardous and corrosive chemicals. They are also perfectly suited for most medical environments, being exceptionally puncture-resistant and eliminating the risk of latex allergy reactions.
What are Latex gloves?
Latex gloves were once the gold standard in disposable gloves for many industries. Latex, made from natural rubber, possesses many qualities that explain this preference. Some users swear by its tactile sensation, flexibility and dexterity. One limitation of latex is that many people experience allergic reactions to it or develop reactions over time. Latex gloves have been banned in some states because of these allergic reactions.
What are Vinyl gloves?
Vinyl is a synthetic, protein-free, non-biodegradable material made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and plasticizers. By incorporating the plasticizer with the PVC, vinyl gloves become thin, flexible, comfortable and soft to the touch. They are also very affordable, making them a popular choice in fields with high glove turnover. Vinyl gloves are also often loose-fitting and easy to change.
Powdered vs non-powdered gloves
Powdered gloves have cornstarch added which makes them easier to put on, especially in busy locations and can prevent gloves from sticking together. When powdered gloves are worn for a long period of time the powder can cling to user’s skin and cause sensitivities or allergies. Cornstarch powder may also contribute to latex allergies or sensitivity.
It is important to note that powdered gloves are not generally an allergy concern with nitrile or vinyl gloves.
Powder-free gloves undergo a process known as chlorination that helps make latex gloves less form fitting so that powder is not needed for easy donning and removal. During the process, gloves are treated with a chlorine solution, rinsed with water, and dried to remove most of the powdered residue and latex proteins.
The downside of the process is that powder-free gloves can be harder to remove quickly and may decrease the firmness of the glove’s grip. Powder-free gloves are also more expensive than powdered gloves due to the extra effort involved in the chlorination process.
When are these types of gloves used
Medical gloves are used whenever there is a possibility that the wearer will come into contact with chemicals or bodily fluids, protect others and themselves from bacteria, protection against burns, cuts, abrasions and similar injuries as well as for general hygiene, comfort or personal preference.
You will see these types of gloves used in facilities such as:
- Surgery rooms
- Medical clinics
- Healthcare facilities
- Beauty parlours
- Tattoo parlours
And many more industries.
It is important to mention that surgery rooms require gloves that are sterile and individually packed per set as the user will be dealing with open wounds hence the need for complete steralisation for the safety of the patients.
Pros & cons of glove types
Latex gloves after made from natural rubber. Latex gloves are very durable, flexible and comfortable to wear. They are an excellent choice when dealing with biological and water-based materials. Since latex gloves are so thin and sensitive to touch, they are highly preferred for sensitive applications like surgery.
However, getting into the cons of latex, it is important to understand that powdered and nonpowdered latex gloves can cause reactions to some people. Therefore, the main disadvantage of latex gloves is that they can cause skin allergies and reactions to those prone to such things.
Nitrile gloves are a very popular choice for a variety of reasons such as, they are 100% latex free, BPA free, great chemical resistance, provide excellent durability, waterproof, more resistant to punctures, recyclable and safer for people with allergens as they have a lower allergy rate than latex disposable gloves. Nitrile gloves have a higher chemical resistance rate compared to latex material. Despite being quite thin they are very strong and sensitive to touch. Nitrile gloves are very soft and comfortable to wear, they offer an excellent fit for the wearer which is extremely helpful when using such things as medical instruments. Nitrile gloves can be used safe for both incidental and extended contact.
Although nitrile gloves have great sensitivity, they have less tactile sensitivity than latex gloves. Additionally, the synthetic nitrile rubber polymer is also not as cheap to produce as vinyl.
Vinyl gloves is a great latex-free choice so are great for those with allergies. Vinyl gloves are very cost-effective making them a great cheaper alternative. Vinyl is very flexible and offers standard protection when handling most chemicals and they are very soft and comfortable to wear.
However, vinyl is known to be less durable than latex or nitrile which makes them suitable for short term use. They are also less sensitive to touch than the other fabrics or materials. Vinyl is not ideal when handling most organic solvents and water-based solutions. Therefore, vinyl gloves are more for general use rather than dealing with any bio-hazards or chemicals.
Allergens in glove types
As touched on throughout this article, nitrile and vinyl gloves are most safe for people with allergies being 100% latex free and have shown lower allergy rates than latex disposable gloves.
Latex and powdered gloves can heighten allergies of those users and patients prone to.
In conclusion, the most favorable glove type within the medical industry is nitrile as they are extremely durable and 100% latex free making them a well-loved essential piece to any facility. However, latex once being the golden child of the glove world is still frequently used within the medical fields where people are known to swap between nitrile and latex depending on user and patient allergen needs and requirements due to the fact that latex and powdered gloves heighten allergies. Vinyl is extremely cost effective and more than suitable for general use however, they are not ideal when dealing with chemicals or bio-hazards and are mostly used short term.
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