The Different Types of Medical Gloves, Explained

The shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) during the early days of the global pandemic has shown us the importance of having effective materials that protect healthcare workers.

Medical gloves are an essential PPE, and they can be used for different types of applications. This is why you find a multitude of different types of medical gloves.

If this is the first time you’re hearing about your gloves options, no worries. You’ve come to the right place. Keep on reading for the full breakdown of the different types of medical gloves. Then, we’ll explore the common distinctive factors that can help you select the right pair for your needs.

Medical Gloves 101: Exam Gloves vs Surgical Gloves

Before we start our deep dive into the different kinds of medical gloves on the market, let’s make sure you understand the distinction between the two main overarching categories of medical gloves.

Those are exam gloves and surgical gloves.

The goal of using medical gloves is to eliminate any cross-contaminations of pollutants or medical hazards. Specifically, between patients and their healthcare providers.

They’re disposable in nature, and medical professionals are expected to properly dispose of them after each use. When it comes to exam gloves, the thickness level doesn’t have to be high. Moreover, the material can be of average quality, as they’re not expected to see heavy use.

On the other hand, surgical gloves are to be worn by surgeons. And, other healthcare professionals tend to come into direct contact with hazards.

Those can be sharp tools, infections, blood, and other bodily fluids. All of those can easily cause a widespread infection or extreme illnesses.

Of course, when it comes to the materials used to make surgical gloves, they need to be of higher quality than your regular exam gloves.

You’ll find that the majority of surgeons prefer using nitrile gloves. As they have high rates of puncture resistance, and they’re extremely durable.

For more info on what nitrile gloves look like, check out this collection.

What About Reusable Gloves?

Generally speaking, you won’t find reusable gloves marketed towards the medical field.

After all, those gloves need to be sanitary and disinfected, which is a rather hard bar to reach when it comes to reusable gloves.

But, you’ll find that reusable gloves, also known as heavy-duty or industrial gloves, are superior when it comes to protection. They’re thicker than disposable gloves and can work wonders against exposure to dangerous materials like chemicals, and others.

Sure, they’re less touch-sensitive, but when you’re using them in construction or other fields that don’t require high rates of finger mobility, those are great options.

The Different Types of Medical Gloves

Depending on your preferred level of comfort, protection, and durability, there are different kinds of medical gloves on the market that reign superior.

You’ll find that the majority of medical gloves are made of nitrile, chloroprene, and latex. Let’s explore each type one at a time.

Chloroprene Gloves

Known under the registered trademark name of Neoprene, chloroprene is a synthetic material that has medium puncture resistance and can provide adequate amounts of protection against hazards.

While it’s similar to nitrile gloves in terms of functionality, the physical wear of chloroprene gloves is closer to natural rubber latex gloves. It makes them rather comfortable to wear, and durable.

However, you’ll find that chloroprene won’t have the naturally occurring proteins found on latex gloves. Those can trigger allergic reactions, especially with patients who are sensitive towards allergens.

Chloroprene gloves are the middle of the road when it comes to the price tag. They’re a bit more expensive than latex-based gloves, but they’re less costly when compared with nitrile gloves.

Nitrile Gloves

Sometimes known as “medical-grade” gloves, nitrile gloves are made of a synthesized form of rubber.

The reason behind the higher price tag of nitrile gloves is their high resistance to puncture and chemicals, in addition to protection from a host of viruses.

They’re considered to be the highest quality substitute for latex gloves. Also, they come with the highest degrees of durability and shelf-life.

All of those benefits, without the allergic reaction possibilities that come attached with latex gloves.

Latex Gloves

Speaking of latex gloves, latex is a material that’s made of a specific substance found in mature rubber trees.

They’re the most popular option for medical gloves across the medical industry, as they provide practitioners with high-tactile sensitivity, which allows them to be precise in their movements.

While latex gloves are top-o-the-line when it comes to protection against bacteria and viruses, they actually provide less protection against chemicals.

As we’ve previously stated, the issue with latex gloves is their latent ability to trigger allergies in people. This is why you’ll find medical institutions that opt for either disposable nitrile or chloroprene gloves.

Other Supplementary Glove Options

Some extra elements can be added to the common types of medical gloves.

Admittedly, they might affect the price point of the gloves. But, they can elevate the level of comfort or make them easier to use for healthcare practitioners.

Powdered vs Powder-Free Gloves

Medical gloves that are powdered can be messier, but they make it much easier for people to put them on.

However, powdered gloves also increase the chances of triggering an allergic reaction.

If you’re sensitive to allergens, you’ll want to skip the powdered gloves and get powder-free ones instead.

Chlorinated Gloves

You don’t have to limit your options to powdered or powder-free gloves. Chlorine is now used as a substitute for powder.

It grants you all the perks of powdered gloves, without any of the negatives. But, of course, nothing is perfect. Chlorinated gloves tend to have shorter-self lives. They tend to last only for one year or so.

Ready to Get the Right Medical Examining Gloves?

If you’re new to the world of medical gloves and their materials, things can be a bit overwhelming.

Hopefully, our guide has shed some light on the most common types of medical gloves on the market, and which ones would be the best for your use.

If you liked this article, you’ll want to check out other tips and strategies in our medical and business section.

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