Medical gloves, including surgical and patient examination gloves, are used to prevent the spread of germs and, along with them, a wide variety of diseases to patients, caregivers and health care workers. Gloves are manufactured to certain standards, depending on their use. For instance, surgical gloves need to meet FDA requirements.
Protective gloves have variety of applications and offer dexterity that household rubber gloves often lack. These gloves are disposable and inexpensive, especially when bought in large packs. Look for the words exam gloves for a higher level of construction and safety.
Start With The Exam Glove Material
Medical or exam gloves come in a variety of materials. Your choice depends on your personal preference, skin sensitivity and the task at hand. Latex exam gloves are extremely common and offer a high level of protection, making them well suited for medical and emergency applications. The comfort, fit, tactile sensitivity and durability of a well-made latex exam glove are very high. Latex gloves are often preferred for procedures that require greater dexterity and when heavy-duty protection is desired.
Some people are allergic to latex and this has resulted in the availability of “non-latex” or non-rubber based materials, including disposable vinyl gloves, nitrile gloves and newer specialty synthetic exam glove.
Nitrile exam gloves are made from a synthetic polymer that has rubber-like characteristics, but none of the allergic reactions that latex can cause. Nitrile gloves typically offer excellent protection and meet FDA requirements.
Vinyl gloves are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and are also latex-free. Some vinyl gloves are very inexpensive, though not as form-fitting or as resistant to rips as latex and nitrile gloves. Vinyl gloves are generally not intended for medical or surgical use, but they do offer general hand protection. However, newer advances in design make them worth consideration for certain jobs. For instance, Medline Ultra Synthetic Exam Gloves are constructed of an advanced formulation vinyl synthetic that stretches to fit your hand while providing maximum sensitivity.
Innovative new materials offer yet more options. The SensiCare With Aloe Surgical Glove is made with Medline’s own raw material, a synthetic polyisoprene called Isolex. The SensiCare glove is coated with 100 percent pure aloe vera to help soothe and moisturize dry, irritated skin caused by frequent hand washing and glove-wearing.
Note that gloves can be manufactured with different textures, in different thicknesses and with other unique characteristics. Read every product description carefully. Keep in mind that thicker materials make stronger gloves, but may not provide you with enough dexterity.
Powder or Powder Free?
Many styles of gloves offer a choice of powder or powder-free styles. Adding cornstarch or another form of powder makes it easier to put on these gloves. For example, the Mediguard Powdered Latex Exam Gloves are powdered with medical grade absorbable dusting powder (USP) for donning ease; they're also non-textured and have beaded cuffs for added durability.
Some gloves are treated in other ways to protect hands. The AloeTouch Ultra IC Exam Glove couples their patented freeze-dried aloe lining with a proprietary enhanced inner coating to moisturize hands with aloe vera and make them faster and easier to put on. The 100 percent latex-free design offers protection against bloodborne pathogens and also has easy-on tapered cuffs for a better fit.
Many gloves are made in sizes ranging from extra small (XS) to extra large (XL). The more accurately you pick your size, the tighter the fit and the better dexterity you’ll get in the glove. If you aren’t sure of your hand size, use a cloth tapemeasure to measure the circumference of your hand at its widest point. In general, choose size extra small for a hand that’s 6” to 7” in circumference, small for 7” to 8”, medium for 8” to 9”, large for 9” to 10” and extra large for 10” to 11”.
Another measurement to consider is cuff length. Some styles, like the Medline Ultra Stretch Vinyl Gloves are made in a longer, 12-inch design. This style is a latex-free vinyl synthetic that stretches to fit your hand while providing maximum sensitivity.