Medical examination gloves are disposable gloves designed to limit both a patient and healthcare professionals exposure to infections matter.
In the past medical gloves have been made out of latex. Latex can be natural and synthetic, in nature it is found in the milky sap of many plants but it can also be made synthetically polymerisation. The term latex is derived from the Spanish word "leche" which means milk.
The limitations with using latex gloves are that they are powdered with cornstartch to make them easier to put on, but cornstarch can impede healing if it gets into tissue. For this reason more surgeons are now using non powdered gloves during surgery and during other sensitive medical procedures.
Glove Sizing There are two types of medical examination glove: examinations and surgical. The difference is that surgical gloves have precise sizing and are made to a higher specification. Examination gloves are cheaper and do not need to be so exact fitting.
Because of the prevalence of allergic reactions (latex gloves can cause anaphylactic shock) to latex among medical practitioners there has now been an increase in the popularity of gloves made from materials other then latex, such as nitrile and vinyl, which will be described in more detail later on in this article. However it should be noted that they have yet to overtake latex gloves for some procedures as they are unable to match the finer control and heightened sensitivity of latex gloves. Additionally non-latex gloves cost upwards of 2-3 times the price of latex gloves which has stopped nitrile and vinyl gloves being used as much in medical centres like hospitals that need to keep costs down.
Medical gloves that are powder free are also produced for use in procedure that require maximum cleanliness.
The 4 main types of medical examination glove have been described in more detail below.
Nitrile gloves are made from a non latex synthetics polymer. Since they do not contain any protein they are less likely to cause any irritation or allergic reactions to the user. They also provide a high degree of sensitivity and flexibility making them suitable for many medical procedures. Nitrile reacts with your bodies temperature and moulds the shape of your hand.
Latex gloves are still the most popular disposable glove because they offer a combination of strength, elasticity and slip resistance. Also due to their significant thickness and durability latex examination gloves are well suited to many high risk examinations.
Vinyl examinations gloves are cheap to buy because they are made from poly vinyl chloride. The positive accepts of vinyl gloves is that they are highly resistant to to acids, fats and alcohols and have anti static properties. The downside is that they are not suited to all examination tasks as they can tear easily, so the key to these gloves is to use then for the correct job.
Synthetic gloves mimic the qualities of latex gloves but do not cause allergic reactions. They are again made from PVC but are designed to have a soft feel and are a little looser around the cuff so reduce hand fatigue.