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What Are Medical Gloves?

14 July 2015  |  John

Medical gloves are gloves which are designed to be used in a medical situation, for example during a doctor’s examination or during surgery. They are always disposable to ensure no cross-contamination happens and are designed to be close to the skin, giving you a great level of dexterity and control when using the gloves.

Types of Medical Gloves

There are two types of medical gloves; sterile and non-sterile.

Sterile Gloves are gloves which have been sterilised and are stored in a sterilised container. These are mostly used for surgery; to ensure that there is no contamination or chance of infection to the patient. These are also used with patients with a weakened immune system for the same reason. Sterile gloves are individually packaged to further prevent contamination while in use.

Non-sterile gloves are simply gloves which have not been sterilised and are not stored in a sterile container. These are used for general examinations of patients by doctors where there is little chance of infection, for example examining glands. Just because gloves have been categorised as "non-sterile", this doesn't mean that they are risky or dangerous to use; they are simply less thoroughly manufactured than sterile equivalents.

Medical Glove Materials

The three main materials medical gloves are made from are latex, nitrile and vinyl. Each of these materials have their own strengths and weaknesses that have to be considered when choosing which material to choose.

Latex: this is the classic material medical gloves are made from. Latex offers a strong glove which will resist tears and punctures while still giving a lot of touch sensitivity, making them ideal for medical use. However, as latex glove use has gone up, so has the chance of latex allergies, and for doctors and patients who are allergic to latex a different material is needed.

Nitrile: these gloves are made from a synthetic rubber and are the best gloves for resisting punctures. As it contains no latex it is commonly used as an alternative to latex gloves when allergy is a concern as it still gives a tight fit around the hand. Given their durability, nitrile gloves are often used in medium and high risk examinations.

Vinyl: like Nitrile, vinyl gloves contain no latex and are often used where a latex allergy can be an issue. However, they do not have as tight a fit as nitrile or latex gloves and are not as puncture-resistant. Because of this they are usually only used in low risk examinations where there is no chance of encountering bodily fluids or blood.

Powdered or Non-Powdered?

Some medical gloves (of any material) feature a powder on the inner lining of them. This powder is designed to make it easier to get the glove on and take off. However, in some circumstances this powder can cause an allergic reaction or a sample to become contaminated. In situations where this is an issue, non-powdered gloves are used. Certain non-powdered gloves have a textured interior to replace the effect of the powder.

If you are interested in getting some medical gloves, visit Safety Gloves and check out our range of Medical Gloves.