In the medical world, even the flooring used in a healthcare facility plays an important role in protecting workers and patients from infections or diseases. For first responders, medical gloves are their first barrier to protecting themselves from exposure to air-borne pathogens and bodily fluids of those suffering illness or injury.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have established a number of guidelines intended to prevent occupational exposure and protect first responders from infections or diseases. Their first recommendation on the list is to always wear gloves when in the front line of duty.
However, a variety of different medical gloves are available on the market, so how do you know which one to choose? Natural rubber latex is a potential allergen. This has led many first aid and medical organizations to withdraw their use to eliminate the risk of causing harm to the user. Now, powdered vinyl and nitrile gloves are the two most commonly used options.
Vinyl gloves are the cheapest and most durable but they aren’t much stretchy and don’t offer much sensitivity. Nitrile gloves are more elastic than vinyl and more durable than latex, which is why they have become the most popular choice.
Why Are Nitrile Gloves Better?
Nitrile gloves are the most approved medical gloves for use during interaction with a patient. Plus, these gloves are also qualified for treating chemical spills. Made from a combination of acrylonitrile and butadiene rubber, nitrile gloves have overtaken latex as the best glove production material mainly due to its superior hand protection qualities and the fact that nitrile is latex-free. Here are some of the reasons why nitrile gloves are considered the best of all.
Greater Tear and Puncture Resistance
What makes nitrile gloves stronger than latex is their synthetic construction, which also contributes to their increased elasticity and flexibility. Research has shown that nitrite gloves can provide up to 3 times more resistance to punctures compared to latex gloves. They’re also resistant to oil and many chemicals, meaning they’re more suitable than latex for occasions when contact with chemicals are expected.
Snug and Comfortable Fit
Nitrile gloves used to have a bad reputation for not fitting the hand as well as latex gloves or being able to offer the same level of dexterity, sensitivity and comfort. However, the improvements in the manufacturing process in recent years have led to the creation of nitrile gloves that are a truly suitable alternative to latex gloves.
The British Standard for Workplace First Aid Kits specifies the use of nitrile gloves instead of latex or vinyl gloves in first aid kits. This provides further credibility to the nitrile gloves sustainability for use in the first aid provision.
100% Latex Free
The synthetic rubber used to produce nitrile gloves doesn’t contain proteins that are found in latex gloves, so they pose a lower risk of allergic reasons for the wearer. It’s the proteins used in latex gloves that tends to aggravate sensitivity to natural latex rubber.
Lower Resistance to Friction
The low resistance to friction of these gloves allows you to easily wear and remove them without risking a tear. They also don’t require the use of powders to ensure ease of wear.
Due to their superior protection qualities, nitrile gloves can be worn in many different industries. In addition to being used in the medical field, nitrile gloves are also found in the food industry and all kinds of industrial environments.
How Long Can You Wear Nitrile Gloves?
If you are considering stocking up on nitrile gloves, know that they don’t last forever. If stored properly, nitrile gloves should be good for about five years. Stored properly means keeping them in their original packaging and placing them in the right place. Although the FDA doesn’t mandate expiration dates for gloves, many manufactures chose to give one for their gloves. After all, every kind of material breaks down over time, including synthetic and natural rubber gloves. Keep in mind that gloves kept beyond their expiration date can become brittle and tear or crack when they’re stretched.
You should also consider changing your gloves frequently. The first reason is that they can end up contaminated. Don’t think that it’s okay to wash your hands thoroughly with gloves on to cleanse them, because it’s not. Second, even small punctures can result in contamination making their way inside the glove. Ideally, discard or change your gloves each time you would otherwise just wash your hands.
Note that wearing gloves for an extended period isn’t necessarily damaging, although it can be uncomfortable. Research has shown that regular glove use for up to three months has no ill effects on skin health. Even though chances are that you won’t be wearing gloves 24/7 for three months, long-term glove usage isn’t dangerous.
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