It is unlikely that anyone has ever seen a medical worker without disposable medical gloves. Indeed, for any employee in this industry, this subject is a kind of barrier to various contact diseases and all kinds of infections. In addition, such products contribute to the highest level of hygiene during diagnostic procedures, surgeries or therapeutic actions. For this purpose, exclusively sterile disposable gloves are used. To receive patients and other similar actions, a non-sterile version of this item is most often used.

What are medical gloves? What are they made of and how to use their various kinds correctly? The answers to these and other questions can be found in the next article.

Appearance story

Medical gloves are disposable products that help ensure the safety of both the patient and staff during medical events. This item serves as a good protection for employees of medical institutions in contact with body fluids of a sick person, as well as guarantee disinfection and antiseptics in a clinic setting, preventing the possible exposure of harmful substances to patients.

Disposable gloves are used not only for medical purposes. In everyday life, they are often used to protect against harmful and toxic substances, such as: cement, household chemicals, paint and others. Another large area of ​​application of this product is the food industry. They are indispensable in cafes, restaurants and other places of public catering and trade, where exceptional sterility is a prerequisite.

Disposable gloves were created by Ansell in 1964 in Melbourne. However, as early as 1847, a surgeon from Hungary drew attention to the fact that almost all postoperative infectious processes arise due to bacteria that fell into the open wound from the hands of medical personnel or improperly processed tools. It was I.F. Semmelweis who noted that often the infection from the infectious diseases department brings the infection, so he made doctors and nurses disinfect their hands with chlorine solution before carrying out procedures with pregnant women or women in labor. Due to this, mortality among newborns and women decreased from eighteen to two percent.

And already medical gloves for these purposes began to be used at John Hopkins Hospital.

Types and main characteristics of medical gloves

Standard medical gloves are made of latex, sprinkled with corn starch from the inside, which greatly facilitates the donning process. Previously, talcum powder or lycopodium powder was used instead of starch. But it turned out that even safer corn starch can cause tissue infection, falling into the wound during surgical operations. Therefore, with surgical intervention and other most sensitive actions, medical products are now used without any powder at all. Moreover, for the manufacture of such a product, specialized technological processes are used.

All disposable gloves can be divided into two main types:

  • surgical, which are developed according to the highest specifications and are divided into specific sizes;
  • diagnostic or examination.

The material from which disposable gloves are made is latex, which is an emulsion of polymer particles in a water base. The rubber from which latex is obtained can be either natural or synthetic. Depending on this, latex can be natural, as well as polyisoprene, nitrile, polychloroprene and polyvinyl chloride or simply vinyl.

Polyisoprene products are considered to be closest in structure to natural latex, since natural latex for the most part consists of polyisoprene particles. These gloves are very soft, fit your hand well and stretch remarkably. However, such a product often causes allergic reactions, since it contains a large amount of protein. Also, gloves made from natural latex do not withstand the effects of esters, alcohols and oily liquids.

Nitrile gloves are highly resistant to alcohols, aldehydes, acids and phenols. This quality makes them indispensable in the laboratory, where laboratory assistants have to work with an aggressive environment, as well as when cleaning rooms. In addition to this, synthetic latex products do not cause allergies, but with prolonged wear they contribute to the onset and development of contact dermatitis. The main disadvantages of nitrile gloves are weak elasticity, which does not allow their widespread use in surgery. However, they are often used in such areas of medicine as dentistry, pharmacology and cosmetology. This is a high quality product, strong enough, resistant to aggressive environments and flexible.

Vinyl gloves are made from harmful and fragile polyvinyl chloride. They are much cheaper than their counterparts, but have great permeability to various kinds of microorganisms and proteins. This drawback does not allow the use of this type of product even for examination of patients.

Polyisoprene gloves, as well as a product made of polychloroprene, have a fairly high price. That is why they are most often used for surgical purposes. The use of such gloves in surgical operations will provide the best protection for both medical professionals and patients.

Due to the fact that natural latex very often provokes the occurrence of allergic reactions, many medical institutions are switching to a synthetic analogue: nitrile rubber or vinyl. However, in surgical practice there is still no full replacement for gloves made of natural latex, which provide high sensitivity and complete freedom. In addition, high-quality synthetic latex substitutes are quite expensive, which also complicates the transition to their use.

One of the important characteristics of disposable medical gloves is dusting. But the fact is that the powder that is used for their manufacture has adverse properties. It helps to attract and retain various bacteria and microorganisms in itself, which serves as a source of all kinds of infections. Also, powder provokes the occurrence of an allergy to latex. Studies were conducted that showed that the use of powder led to many postoperative complications, the occurrence of infectious processes inside the hospital and the development of allergic reactions, both in hospital staff and in its patients. However, powdered gloves are very good for short procedures, lasting up to ten minutes. Under such conditions, the powder manages to completely dissolve in sweat, which means it has a minimal effect on the skin of the hands.

Initially, the powder was used exclusively for the purposes of the production process - in order to prevent the product walls from sticking together after removing it from the mold. Today, in order to prevent the walls from sticking after removing gloves from the mold, surface modification is used in modern production.

Another important characteristic for disposable gloves is the roller, which serves to fix the product on the wrist. Care must be taken that the roller is curled inside the glove. Otherwise, the space between it and the surface of the product will be a source of infection. In products without a roller, its function should be performed by a reinforced cuff that fits tightly on the wrist.

Other gloves simply will not hold on to the hand, which does not allow their use for medical purposes.

Also in disposable gloves it is important to pay attention to the surface texture, which allows you to hold medical instruments tightly in your hands. Distinguish between textured and microrough surface of latex products. The second option practically does not change the structure of the glove, making the surface closer to smooth than textured.

Additional properties of medical gloves

Additional properties of medical disposable gloves include:

  • anatomical shape of the product;
  • sterility gloves;
  • surface modification.

The anatomical shape is more applicable to surgical gloves. It allows you to reduce hand fatigue during prolonged use. Such gloves are products with a separate thumb, which accordingly allows you to put them on the appropriate hand. Such items are much more expensive to manufacture and are performed in certain sizes, in the range of digital values ​​from 5.5 to 9. There is also an improved anatomical shape, in which the fingers are executed in a curved shape in the palm of the hand. Such products reduce the load not only on the thumb, but the whole arm as a whole.

The sterility of latex products is achieved by sterilization, which is carried out by chemical, thermal, filtration or radiation methods. In fact, sterilization is the neutralization of all microorganisms, bacteria, prion proteins, fungi and spores from the surface of the product. Surgical gloves are usually sterilized chemically or by gamma radiation during manufacture. Such sterilization methods are absolutely safe for the end user, but extremely harmful for harmful microorganisms. In a medical institution, non-sterile gloves are thermally sterilized. Usually, in order to confirm sufficient sterilization, a special color indicator is applied to the box with the product, which, with sufficient exposure to ethylene oxide or gamma radiation, changes color, which confirms sterility.

Surface modification is used in order to achieve smoothness of the product. Modification of both the inner and outer surfaces of the gloves is applied. Internal - facilitates putting on gloves even on wet hands, and external - provides convenient work with medical instruments, preventing sticking of touching surfaces of fingers.

Surface modification is carried out by two methods: treatment with polymers or chlorination. Chlorination is the treatment of an article with perchloric acid, as a result of which a smooth film forms on its surface. Also in this case, partial removal of water occurs, which gives a pleasant tactile feel to the glove. Online chlorination is carried out at industrial enterprises - this is exactly the process that completely replaced the dusting of gloves in production. In domestic conditions, chlorination is achieved by prolonged soaking of products in a solution of perchloric acid.

However, you should know that prolonged uncontrolled chlorination leads to damage to the product: the appearance of yellow color, the loss of the protective properties of latex - it becomes quite susceptible to the penetration of various microorganisms and proteins through it. In addition, the chlorine remaining on the glove after poor quality treatment has a negative effect on both patients and medical personnel.

The second method of surface modification is the processing of it with polymers. The main objectives of the polymer coating of the product are to prevent it from sticking together, as well as to improve donning. Most often, polymers such as silicone or polyurethane are used for surface treatment in these cases. In the past, nitrile and hydrogel coatings were considered the most popular.


Medical gloves are an indispensable tool in the medical industry, which provides reliable protection for patients and employees of medical institutions with various diagnostic procedures, as well as with surgical intervention. There are various types of such products, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. The characteristics of such varieties must be guided by the choice of latex gloves. It should be remembered that for surgical operations it is necessary to use high-quality sterile disposable gloves, while ordinary non-sterile products are suitable for ordinary, less sensitive procedures.

Watch the video: Buyers Guide To Medical Gloves (December 2019).