How to choose medical examination gloves

Posted by Lighthouse Staff on

If you buy or use medical examination gloves...

Are you sure that you and your staff are protected? Read more to find out...

1. Choosing the material.

Latex, nitrile and vinyl are the most commonly used disposable glove materials. Each material is suitable for specific uses.

Natural rubber latex is a plant-derived material. Latex gloves offer good barrier protection, close fit and flexibility. Latex use in medical gloves has been decreasing in recent years. The downside of latex is the possibility of latex allergies, ranging from skin irritation to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition.

Nitrile is nearly as strong and flexible as latex, without the allergy risk. Nitrile is a synthetic rubber-like material. Nitrile gloves find use in all industries and protect both the worker and the materials being handled. Nitrile is the material of choice for medical examination gloves.

Vinyl is an economic option, best for activities that do not require great sensitivity or protection. They are a popular choice for the food industry. Vinyl gloves are probably inadequate for most medical tasks.


2. Selecting thickness.

Most medical applications use nitrile gloves. The thickness of these gloves is measured in mil; one mil equals 1/1000 of an inch. 3-4 mil gloves are suitable for most medical and dental applications; they provide good protection and great sensitivity and dexterity. 5-6 mil gloves provide enhanced durability but less sensitivity and dexterity. 8 mil gloves provide yet higher protection and are usually reserved for higher risk applications.

3. Texturing.

Finger tip and/or palm texturing provides better grip. This is especially important when gloves become wet.

4. Powdering

Powder inside gloves has been used to make putting the gloves on easier. However, most newer gloves are powder-free and are easy to put on because of the process called chlorination. There is no reason to use powdered gloves at this point.

5. Quality

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates medical devices, including gloves. According to FDA guidelines, medical gloves should be watertight, have consistent sizing and fit comfortably. FDA requirements also define performance properties, such as the minimum barrier protection and strength these products must exhibit.

All medical gloves must meet certain Acceptable Quality Level (AQL) standards related to the product’s freedom from pinholes and the barrier protection confidence level. A lower AQL number represents a higher quality product.


To be continued!

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