For medical professionals working in home health and hospice care, medical exam gloves are a way of life. But which gloves? There are a huge variety on the market today. Nitrile, latex, or vinyl? With powder or powder free? How do allergies fit into the equation? No matter your preferences, HME Medical has you covered -- literally!
Latex gloves have traditionally been a trusted choice for healthcare professionals worldwide. Latex gloves fit like a second skin, allow for significant touch sensitivity, and can be worn for an extended period of time. They are a strong, flexible, reliable barrier of protection against contamination and exposure to highly infectious material. As they are made from a natural rubber, a processed plant product, many are even biodegradable! Unfortunately, latex allergies are fairly common and may cause reactions to occur when individuals come in contact with the gloves, or people who recently handled them.
Hospice Nurse Ann Daugherty explains why she’s seen professionals moving away from Latex gloves. “Most facilities won't allow the use of latex gloves anymore due to the number of people allergic to them. And powdered gloves can be annoying to put on and leave residue after the fact, that why I love nitrile gloves. You never have to worry about patient's being allergic to it or substance on your hands after using them. They are the perfect fit for everyone!”
That being said, if allergies are not a concern, latex is an established, affordable choice.
Blue or black nitrile gloves are easily recognizable and, in light of latex allergies, are becoming a preferred choice. In support of breast cancer, Medline has released a line of pink gloves and an annual dance competition that has inspired numerous medical personnel to do the “Pink Glove Dance”. While similar to their rubber cousins, nitrile gloves are made from a synthetic polymer which is both protein and allergy free but similar to latex in durability, elasticity, and strength. Being three times more puncture resistant than latex or vinyl, and comfortable enough to allow them to be worn for extended periods of time, these gloves work well in situations involving highly infectious material.
Nitrile gloves have a long shelf life, making them an ideal backup to latex if desired. The way they mold to fit your hand and allow a high level of sensation through the material make them strong contenders in the glove game; though the costs involved in their production make them more expensive than the alternatives.
Though less expensive than their latex and nitrile counterparts, medical-grade vinyl gloves are still a great choice for the healthcare professional. Unlike the thinner gloves often used by food service workers, recent advances have been made in the production of the material to the point that it is almost impossible to tell the rubber-like vinyl exam gloves apart from latex ones. While less expensive than their latex and nitrile counterparts; the gloves with the added stretchiness and durability cost more than those without.
Bonus: To Powder or Not To Powder
Stretchy, clingy exam gloves can be difficult to pull on especially when you have sweaty hands. Powder is applied to the material to make it easier to pull on the gloves, as well as to keep them from sticking to one another. Unfortunately, this powder can also act as a vehicle to transmit latex proteins, which can make it dangerous around individuals with allergies. Usually, purchasing powder-free gloves is more expensive, as the powders must be removed from the glove.