Between evolving safety recommendations and production shortages since the emergence of COVID-19 and the resulting pandemic, many people have found themselves trying to make expert decisions about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) with what feels like imperfect information. Medical equipment, especially latex, vinyl, and nitrile gloves suddenly became a matter of public interest and health.
Even more complicated, some people will experience allergies or product sensitivities; for example, latex is a common allergen found in plenty of medical equipment situations.
Further, all gloves are permeable to some extent. How quickly a liquid or chemical permeates the glove depends on the chemical, its concentration, factors like temperature, and the glove itself. For that reason, it is important to take not just comfort into account, but the intended purpose, rating, and safety standards for each product as well.
No one piece of PPE is the ultimate solution for all scenarios, whether you are talking about the coronavirus outbreak or any other situation. However, armed with the proper knowledge, you can make a wise, safe decision for yourself and your situation.
Medical Protective Gloves
Gloves can be worn for several protective reasons. Top of mind for many consumers currently will be gloves that protect from viruses and other pathogens. In this case, you select from a few styles of disposable gloves used primarily in healthcare-related environments.
The disposability of gloves in this situation is a crucial feature. These gloves serve the purpose of creating a barrier between your skin and any pathogens you would otherwise come in direct contact with, either from surfaces or people you are interacting with.
If you were to touch a contaminated surface then touch your face, phone, or other personal property with the glove, you have now transferred the exact substance you are trying to avoid from your glove to yourself or your property. However, if instead, you touched a contaminated surface like a shared doorknob, then promptly removed the gloves safely and disposed of them without touching your property or body, you have now removed that contamination by containing it in the gloves.
It is important to remember the gloves are not themselves antiseptic and proper protection comes from using them as intended.
Latex gloves were a primary choice for medical workers as they provide reasonable protection against viruses and bacteria. Latex is a natural rubber and is very flexible, increasing the comfort and mobility of the user.
However, latex allergies can develop over time as people are exposed to latex gloves and other products. Healthcare workers are at particular risk for sensitivity since they may come into repeated contact with latex.
The Centers for Disease Control and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health advise against using latex products if you suspect you have a latex allergy.
Latex gloves do not offer sufficient protection against chemicals.
Vinyl gloves are another latex-free solution but do not offer a level of protection as high as nitrile or latex gloves. They are less flexible and less durable, so they are more prone to tears or other damage. The lack of flexibility also means they often fit looser.
These are ideal gloves to use when you need some protection but are in a situation with a low risk of infection, like food preparation and handling. Like nitrile and latex gloves, vinyl gloves are disposable, single-use only. Because of the low cost of materials, they are often a cost-effective option, assuming they are suitable for the desired task.
Nitrile Gloves are a versatile tool available in a medical environment or any situation where the user is looking for a similar level of protection.
The gloves are typically made to fit well, preserving dexterity for the user. Nitrile, while not the most flexible of medical glove materials, is flexible enough for most tasks.
Because it is a synthetic rubber, consumers who have a latex allergy will often reach for nitrile gloves for comfort and safety. Additionally, the synthetic material makes these gloves a good option when handling chemicals with the potential for brief contact. (If you are coming in direct, repeated contact with harsh or corrosive chemicals, you will need a protective glove designed to withstand that level of exposure.)
NewRain offers multiple styles of nitrile gloves from an FDA-approved manufacturer, produced to adhere to FDA 510(k) and ASTM D6319 standards. Our powder-free, latex-free nitrile gloves are comfortable and practical.