Make the Right Glove Choice Between Latex Gloves, Nitrile Gloves or Vinyl Gloves

Latex gloves

Latex gloves are a a popular protective choice for medical or industrial use. Latex gloves are made out of rubber, a natural product. They have a slight advantage with comfort and dexterity over nitrile gloves. For this reason the majority of surgical gloves are still made from latex. The primary reason people would choose an alternative to latex is because many people suffer from latex allergies. Additionally, while latex gloves come from natural rubber latex, they are not 100 percent pure. This is because manufacturers combine the latex concentrate with a number of compounding chemicals during the initial step of the production process. Latex gloves, like balloons are a natural, biodegradable material. You can add them to a compost pile and they will be gone by six months.

Nitrile gloves

Nitrile gloves are an ideal alternative when latex allergies are of concern. These are made from a synthetic rubber and are often referred to as “medical grade.” Nitrile gloves also offer the most puncture resistance. Since latex allergies affect many people, nitrile gloves are often preferred. Even if the glove wearer is not allergic to latex, nitrile gloves are the popular choice for medical examination gloves. Nitrile gloves do have one drawback. They are not biodegradable.

Vinyl Gloves

Vinyl gloves are made from a synthetic material composed of polyvinyl chloride and plasticizers that softens the material. These gloves are allergy free and an alternative to wearing a latex glove. Medical examination gloves are commonly made of synthetic materials such as vinyl (PVC) or nitrile.

Allergies to synthetic gloves?

Some users confuse chemical allergies with latex allergies. Both nitrile and vinyl gloves often contain components that can elicit a chemical allergy. For example, nitrile gloves, like natural latex gloves, often use carbamates or thiazoles, which can cause a skin allergy.

Powdered gloves or unpowdered?

Powder is used as a lubricant in the manufacture of medical gloves in order to facilitate donning and to avoid the gloves sticking together. Today, the most widely used dusting powders are cornstarch, and calcium carbonate (CaCO3). Cornstarch, however is the most common lubricant.

Powder free lubricated gloves?

Residual powder from gloves is often removed by chlorination. Chlorination is achieved using chlorine gas or a solution of hypochlorite and hydrochloric acid. Surface tackiness of the natural rubber latex is reduced in this process. Gloves are then easier to don because they slide over hands without sticking to the skin. Chlorination also removes residual powder and lowers latex proteins in the glove. This process is most common for latex gloves. Polymer coating is another way to make powder free gloves easier to don. There are various types of polymers used, including silicones, acrylics, and hydrogels. These coatings are applied to the gloves’ interior while the gloves are on the former. Polymer coating is most common with nitrile gloves.

Definitions and History

Nitrile rubber: Also known as Buna-N, Perbunan, acrylonitrile butadiene rubber, and NBR. It is a synthetic rubber copolymer of acrylonitrile (ACN) and butadiene. Trade names include Nipol, Krynac and Europrene. Nitrile gloves have a longer shelf life and are more resistant to punctures and tears compared to natural latex.

When did they start using gloves in surgery?

William Stewart Halsted is widely credited as the first to develop and introduce rubber surgical gloves in the United States. In 1894 at Johns Hopkins Hospital’s he was the first surgeon in chief, only five years after the institution opened.
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