Medical-grade gloves are essential personal protective equipment (PPE) in many professional settings. While disposable medical gloves are most commonly used in healthcare settings, they are also required by paramedics, food handlers, dentists and other professionals. Where health and hygiene are the most concerned, protective gloves are essential. They help stop the spread of bacteria and viruses, promoting the safety of employees and clients.
If your occupational environment requires disposable gloves, choosing the best gloves is critical. You need to understand the difference between the various types of disposable gloves. Not all gloves are created equal – different materials, strengths and other characteristics serve different purposes. Below, we’ll discuss the 10 most important considerations when shopping for gloves.
1. Definition of Medical Gloves
Only some disposable gloves meet the standards for medical gloves. To qualify as medical grade, disposable gloves must meet the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) quality assurance guidelines. These guidelines ensure that all gloves used in medical settings are durable and reliable, not flimsy or fragile.
When examining patients, the acceptable quality level (AQL) of the gloves must be no higher than 2.5. This rating means that no more than 2.5% of gloves are defective in each batch. These gloves are non-sterile – sterile gloves must have lower AQL measurements.
Manufacturers must adhere to stringent testing measures in order to achieve a score of 2.5 or lower. Gloves with AQL values higher than 4 or 5 are only suitable for mechanical or industrial use. Stringent AQL standards require glove manufacturers to employ uncompromising quality control.
AQL scoring guidelines help ensure that gloves used for medical purposes are defect-free. Tears or other quality lapses can leave healthcare workers and their patients vulnerable to pathogens or other contaminants. Depending on your application, you must decide on an acceptable AQL rating.
You may find an industry standard, but if not, choose a lower AQL number, the best quality disposable gloves. Remember, doctors use gloves with an AQL score of 2.5 or lower when examining patients. Similar scores may be sufficient for your environment, unless you need them for surgical purposes.
2. Type of material
1) Type of material
Acceptable AQL-rated disposable gloves are available in a variety of materials.
The first thing you should consider is your glove material preference. Different glove materials serve different purposes, so it’s a good idea to know what glove materials are available before buying in bulk.
Nitrile gloves are one of the best alternatives to latex gloves and have a longer average shelf life. Standard nitrile gloves are the ideal non-sterile option. Powder-free, latex-free nitrile gloves are resistant to chemicals, oils and acids.
The strength of nitrile makes these gloves tough and helps them remain puncture-free, even when worn for extended periods of time. If latex allergy is an issue, nitrile gloves offer a flexible, touch-sensitive alternative. You can bulk order nitrile gloves in a variety of colors and sizes.
Latex gloves are a comfortable, inexpensive glove suitable for use in most medical settings. They have been the mainstay of many healthcare facilities since the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic in the 1980s. That being said, latex allergies are very common.
Chances are your organization or the people you serve will be allergic to latex. If you’re buying widely used gloves, you might consider using materials that are less likely to cause allergic reactions, such as nitrile or vinyl. Latex also has a short shelf life compared to other materials.
Vinyl, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) gloves
Another option is polyvinyl chloride (PVC) gloves. PVC is a common synthetic plastic polymer. Since they’re easy to mass produce, these gloves are one of the cheapest options. They are also not as durable as other types of gloves, and they offer limited protection against hazards. Therefore, PVC gloves are best suited for low hazard applications. In some cases, nitrile-vinyl hybrid gloves may be the best option, both affordable and durable.
Other types of medical gloves
For most applications, one of the materials listed above will suffice.
Here are some other material options you might consider purchasing latex-free medical gloves:
- Neoprene Gloves: Neoprene is a synthetic monomer.It produces neoprene, which resembles latex and is resistant to many dangerous chemicals.
- Chemo Gloves: Chemo gloves, as the name suggests, are approved for use during chemotherapy.Exposure to chemotherapy drugs can be dangerous, so personal protective equipment is always recommended.
- Aloe Vera Gloves: Frequent hand washing and changing gloves can cause your hands to become chapped.Some medical gloves contain an aloe vera coating that moisturizes the wearer’s hands.
2) Sterile vs Non-Sterile
For gloves to be “sterile”, they must meet strict FDA regulations. Sterile medical gloves can be used in surgery, so they must have the best AQL rating. Sterile gloves must meet a quality standard of 1.5 or lower. As mentioned above, the AQL value of examination gloves can be as high as 2.5, so sterile gloves are considered safer.
Sterile gloves may command a higher price because their production requires rigorous testing.
Surgical and Exam Gloves
While the term “non-sterile” may sound worrisome, non-sterile gloves with an AQL of 2.5 or lower can be used for any non-surgical purpose. The use of non-sterile gloves in non-surgical settings is safe and reduces the risk of disease transmission. Most healthcare workers use non-sterile gloves when examining patients.
Non-sterile gloves are also effective in other applications. If you’re looking for disposable gloves for everyday cleaning, food service, nursing, or other uses, non-sterile gloves are also available. Determining an acceptable AQL rating for your purposes is critical.
3) Powdered and non-powdered gloves
You may come across a choice of powdered and non-powdered gloves. Powdered gloves feature a cornstarch coating, which makes them easier to put on and keeps them from sticking together. While this could improve convenience, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned powdered gloves for use in surgeries and patient examinations.
In a medical setting, the risks of powdered gloves outweigh the benefits, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The powder can adhere to the wearer’s skin, causing irritation, inflammation or allergic reactions. It can also cause surgical complications including peritoneal adhesions, a type of adhesion between the body’s organs. While the ban has not yet extended to food service, powder on gloves could lead to food contamination. In most cases, non-powdered gloves are a better choice.
4) glove thickness
It is also important to consider the thickness of the gloves. Thicker gloves provide a stronger protective barrier. They also resist tears better, making them last longer.
A durable industrial-grade glove is thicker than a lighter, thinner glove. That being said, thicker gloves may reduce touch sensitivity, which is not ideal in some situations.
If your application requires higher touch sensitivity, you can choose thinner gloves made of durable materials such as nitrile. Look for glove thickness measurements in mils when browsing glove options.
5) tactile sensitivity
Certain situations require a high level of tactile or touch sensitivity. For example, surgeons need uncompromised touch sensitivity to perform surgery with the necessary precision and accuracy.
The tactile glove is made of lightweight material and can achieve the same level of precision as an ungloved hand. Sensitivity may also be necessary in some applications, including food preparation, electronic processing, and pharmaceuticals. Gloves fit comfortably
6) Gloves fit comfortably
You should also consider glove comfort and fit, including a variety of size options. Depending on your application, your employees may need to wear gloves when performing complex tasks. They may also need to wear gloves for extended periods of time.
Choosing a comfortable glove is critical – uncomfortable gloves can prevent people from performing necessary duties. Size selection is an important consideration.
If the glove is too small, it may cause allergies or restrict blood circulation to the hand, making the glove distracting and uncomfortable.
A glove that is too small is also more likely to tear, compromising its protective barrier. If the glove is too large, other problems may arise. The loose space between the glove and the wearer’s skin can leave the wearer vulnerable to pathogens. Gloves that are too large can also fall off, causing serious contamination problems.
When shopping for gloves, be sure to have several sizes on hand, at least small, medium, and large.
7) tensile strength
Tensile strength refers to the resistance of a material to breaking when stretched or stretched. Gloves with higher tensile strength ratings are more tear resistant.
Both nitrile and latex are materials with high tensile strength ratings – you can keep pulling on them before they start to tear. Tensile strength is critical as tearing can compromise the protection of the glove. This is an important metric, especially for applications that require manual dexterity.
8) color of gloves
While you might not think much about the color of a glove, it can make a significant difference. You can choose gloves in different colors so employees can easily distinguish between different types of gloves. For example, you might choose blue latex gloves and black non-latex gloves, so those with latex allergies won’t have trouble choosing non-latex gloves. If you need sterile and non-sterile gloves, color coding may be useful again.
The color of certain gloves can also make tears more visible. Tears are easy to identify if you wear dark gloves over light ones. You can then change the gloves as soon as possible after the tear to minimize the risk of contamination.
You may be wondering if wearing double gloves provides more protection than wearing a single glove. According to a study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), wearing double gloves is an effective way to protect the wearer from pathogens and other harmful substances.
They found that while glove perforations were common, there were no examples of perforations on the inside of a pair of gloves. The National Institutes of Health recommends wearing double gloves as a routine in the operating room.
Standardized wearing of double gloves can help you promote the safety and health of your employees. If you choose to do this, you may need to stock up on more gloves. It’s a good idea to order gloves in bulk for this purpose.
10) Shelf life
The last factor you should consider is the shelf life of the gloves. Buying disposable gloves in bulk ensures that you always have gloves when you need them – but it can also mean that some gloves will not be used for extended periods of time. The shelf life of a glove mainly depends on its material.
Nitrile gloves are more durable than other materials. You should always check the manufacturer’s guidelines, but most nitrile gloves will last for several years in their original packaging. In most cases, it is easy to tell if a glove is damaged. Damaged gloves may have cracks on the surface or may be brittle to the touch. Wear gloves of normal tensile strength and durability, and carefully record how long the gloves have been sitting on the rack.
3. Proper Storage Tips
Proper storage can make gloves more durable. For short or long term storage of gloves, you should keep gloves:
- In their original packaging with a full seal:use gloves only when you are ready to break the packaging seal.
- In low temperature environments: Excessive heat can cause gloves to degrade, so it is important to store gloves in a cool environment.A temperature-controlled wardrobe is an ideal option.
- A place without UV light or ozone:Some fluorescent light bulbs and electrical equipment can produce ozone or UV light. Touching any of these can damage the gloves.
- In low humidity environments:Excessive humidity can damage gloves or lead to the growth of mold or bacteria. Keep gloves away from humidifiers, radiators, steam pipes, or other devices that generate heat and humidity.
When deciding where to store gloves, choose a cool, dark environment. In most cases, a shelf in a concealed closet will do the trick. Proper storage will help you extend the shelf life of your gloves, saving you time and money in the long run, and minimising waste.
4. How to buy disposable medical gloves
By using the right gloves for your application, you can create a safer, healthier, and more productive work environment. When shopping for a new disposable glove, there are several factors to consider – material, AQL, durability, comfort, dexterity, color and other characteristics. Each of these factors is important. Once you’ve selected the right gloves, be sure to buy as many as you may need and follow the best storage practices.
Reliable personal protective equipment, including gloves, masks, gowns and hand sanitizer, is critical in many situations. It can help prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses and reduce the risk of contamination.
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