Choosing the Right Medical Gloves

Medical gloves, also known as hospital gloves, are disposable medical devices used in healthcare. According to the World Health Organization, medical gloves are used for two main objectives:

  • Reduce the risk of contamination of healthcare workers’ hands with blood and other body fluids.
  • Reduce the spread of micro-organisms in the environment and the risk of transmission of micro-organisms between healthcare professionals and patients, as well as from patient to patient.

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  • How to choose medical gloves

    EURONDA latex gloves

    Your choice of medical gloves will be based on various criteria, such as the intended use, the main materials they are made of, and the different options available.

    • Materials – Medical gloves can be made of:
      • Latex
      • Nitrile
      • Vinyl
      • Neoprene (chloroprene)
      • PVC
      • Leather (undressed)
      • Cotton
    • Options – Medical gloves can be:
      • Powdered or powder-free
      • Sterile or non-sterile
      • Chlorinated or non-chlorinated
  • What material should you choose for medical gloves?

    HUM nitrile gloves

    Each material has advantages and disadvantages, the importance of which will depend on the user and the intended use. Below we summarize the main advantages and disadvantages of latex, nitrile, vinyl, neoprene, and PVC gloves.

    • Latex gloves:
      • Advantages: Latex (natural rubber) gloves are very flexible, elastic, thin, and waterproof. They are highly resistant and offer maximum protection against contamination, cross-infection, and chemicals. They are used in high-risk procedures, both long and short-term use. They also provide high tactile sensitivity, essential for greater precision and thoroughness.
      • Disadvantages: For people who are allergic to latex, these gloves can cause skin irritation, among other reactions.
    • Nitrile gloves:
      • Advantages: Nitrile gloves are an excellent alternative for people who are allergic to latex. They have the same properties as latex gloves and offer identical protection. They are very durable. They are particular in that they tear apart completely when punctured or cut, which leads to the immediate cessation of their use, minimizing the risk of contamination of the user.
      • Disadvantages: For nitrile gloves with powder specifically, although easier to put on, the powder can cause allergic reactions.
    • Vinyl gloves:
      • Advantages: Vinyl gloves are the cheapest on the market. They pose no risk of allergies and are very resistant to punctures and cuts.
      • Disadvantages: They are less suitable for high-risk procedures since vinyl is less resistant than latex and nitrile. What’s more, they don’t offer good tactile sensitivity and are less elastic than latex or nitrile gloves, which can make it difficult to perform procedures that require dexterity and precision. These gloves are less durable and need to be replaced regularly.

    DACH Neoprene® gloves

    • Neoprene (chloroprene) gloves:
      • Advantages: Like nitrile and vinyl, neoprene is a synthetic substitute for natural rubber. Neoprene gloves are suitable for numerous applications and offer particularly reliable and effective protection against aggressive chemicals. They allow great flexibility and excellent tactile sensitivity. They are durable, so you can use them for longer periods of time.
      • Disadvantages: Neoprene gloves are less resistant to abrasion than latex gloves. They are not resistant to aromatic and chlorinated solvents.
    • Laboratory gloves (PVC, leather, cotton):
      • Advantages: Gloves intended for use in laboratories are well-resistant to acids and bases. They are also resistant to high temperatures and humidity.
      • Disadvantages: Their use is reserved for low-risk situations.
  • What other options are available for medical gloves?

    Depending on the intended application and use, you can choose powdered or powder-free, sterile or non-sterile, chlorinated or non-chlorinated gloves.

    • Powdered gloves or powder-free gloves:
      • Powdered gloves: Gloves with a thin layer of powder on the inside, usually cornstarch. The powder makes them easier to put on and also has the advantage of absorbing perspiration from the hands, allowing them to be worn for longer. They are cheaper than powder-free gloves. However, glove powder causes allergic reactions in some people and poses a risk of cross-infection by air, due to the dispersion of powder in the air.
      • Powder-free gloves: For people who are allergic to powdered gloves. They are just as comfortable and effective in terms of protection as powdered gloves.
    • Sterile gloves or non-sterile gloves:
      • Sterile gloves: These are usually made of latex, but there are also vinyl and neoprene gloves. They are used in surgical and diagnostic procedures, childbirth, invasive procedures, and in the preparation of chemotherapeutic agents, for example. They are an effective barrier against the transmission of bacteria and viruses between the patient and the healthcare professional. They are also very resistant but should be replaced after about 45 minutes of use to avoid micro-perforations and the consequent risk of infection.
      • Non-sterile gloves: Used for drawing blood, cleaning instruments, giving infusions, carrying out pelvic or vaginal examinations, handling dirty clothes or waste, when there is a risk of exposure to bodily fluids or secretions, or when using a defibrillator. They act as excellent electrical insulators and can be made of latex, vinyl, or nitrile.
    • Chlorinated gloves: Chlorination consists of immersing the glove in an aqueous chlorine solution or exposing it to chlorine gas. This treatment reduces the stickiness of the surface of the gloves, making them easier to put on and take off, without the need to increase their thickness or use powder. Most disposable powder-free gloves are chlorinated. However, these gloves contain chlorine, which is harmful to the environment. In addition, chlorinated gloves are more expensive than powdered gloves, the alternative solution when looking for gloves that are easy to put on and remove. Finally, chlorinated gloves offer less grip than non-chlorinated gloves.
  • How do I choose my glove size?

    There are five standard glove sizes, generally ranging from XS to XL. Glove size should be chosen according to the circumference of your dominant hand.

    The following table shows the different glove sizes and the corresponding hand measurements in inches and centimeters:

    XS 6-7 inches 15-17 cm
    S 7-8 inches 17-20 cm
    M 8-9 inches 20-22 cm
    L 9-10 inches 22-25 cm
    XL 10-11 inches 25-27 cm
  • How to put on and remove gloves

    Technique for putting on and removing
    non-sterile gloves

    Here is the procedure for putting on and removing gloves while complying with hygiene and safety requirements.

    • How to put on gloves:
      1. Remove the first glove from the box.
      2. Hold the glove by the wrist, without touching any other part of it.
      3. Pull on the first glove by pulling it gently at the wrist.
      4. With your non-gloved hand, remove the second glove from the box, holding it only at the wrist.
      5. Put on the second glove with the fingers of the gloved hand by pulling on the outside of the wrist area, to avoid touching the forearm.
      6. Once the gloves are on, do not touch anything other than the object of the procedure for which they were put on.
    • How to remove gloves:
      1. Pinch the glove at the wrist to lift it without touching the skin of the forearm, and turn it over so that the inner surface of the glove is on the outside.
      2. Keep the removed glove in the gloved hand and insert the fingers of the gloveless hand between the wrist and the glove of the other hand.
      3. Pull the glove so that it is inside out and wraps around the first glove removed, then place both in a suitable container.
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