At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a lot of confusion about what we should or should not do regarding PPE. Information from many sources was going around regarding what type of personal protective equipment we should be using. Some were saying masks don’t help at all; others insisted that they were the best thing we could be doing to stop the spread of COVID-19. Masks ended up being the most commonly used form of PPE during the height of the pandemic. Other types of personal protective equipment were also being used frequently, including medical-grade gloves. Doctors and nurses use them, but does that mean that the rest of us should be using them? Are gloves effective PPE? Let’s find out.
Why Do Doctors And Nurses Use Gloves?
The primary reason that Doctors and Nurses use medical-grade gloves is to prevent the spread of germs. They are especially needed for medical staff because they directly come in contact with patients. Gloves prevent any bodily fluids or other substances containing germs from coming into contact with the medical professional’s body. Medical professionals are constantly coming into contact with deadly diseases in the hospital setting, and they need as many layers of protection as possible. While hand washing and sanitizing is still the most effective way to protect yourself against diseases, gloves provide additional protection that cannot be undervalued. However, for gloves to be an effective form of PPE, they must be used correctly.
Proper Use Of Medical Gloves
For gloves to be an effective form of PPE, they must be used correctly. The first thing that you must do is obtain sterile gloves. If you are not using sterile gloves, you will not be protecting yourself from any germs or bacteria. To put the gloves on, you must create a sterile area so the gloves do not contact unsanitary surfaces. You must also clean your hands before putting them on with either hand sanitizer or soap and water, with handwashing being the preferred method.
Even more important than proper technique when putting gloves on is removing them properly. At this point, your gloves are likely covered in germs and harmful bacteria. To prevent these germs from coming into contact with your body, you need to remove them carefully and dispose of them. The most critical aspect of removal is not touching your hands to the outside of the glove exposed to the harmful components in the environment. You can find a detailed description of how to properly remove sterile gloves here.
Should We Be Using Gloves?
The consensus is no; the average person does not need to be wearing sterile gloves when they are out and about. However, there are some specific situations where it may be helpful for you to wear gloves during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, if somebody in your home is suffering from COVID-19 or another infectious disease, it can be helpful to use gloves when handling their things. When cleaning up plates that they have used or areas that they have been in, gloves can provide you with that extra level of protection that handwashing simply cannot. Also, some disinfectants are so harsh that you need to wear gloves to protect your skin from their effects. During these situations, it would also be helpful to have some medical gloves on hand.
Overall, while gloves can be helpful in some scenarios, they are not necessary for the average public space such as a grocery store or movie theater.