There are many types of medical gloves available, each of them offering specific properties particular to the gloving material. Gloves are used for protection of both the patient and the medical professional who is wearing them, however, sometimes the gloves themselves can cause adverse health reactions. The most common ones include skin irritations and skin sensitivities or allergies.
Glove sizing must be well matched to the wearer, otherwise the chafing of the skin may occur. If the gloves are too big, that can also make it more difficult to hold onto or manipulate medical devices, and easier for germs to get inside the gloves. If the gloves are too small, they are more likely to rip. That’s why it is important to choose the right size for a good fit.
Natural rubber latex gloves can cause allergic reactions and skin irritations. Latex allergy is a reaction to some types of proteins found in natural rubber latex. The symptoms are redness and swelling at the site of contact with the glove, accompanied by the feelings of itching and burning. In some cases, conjunctivitis, rhinitis and bronchial obstructions can also occur.
It is estimated that about two percent of the population experiences allergy symptoms when exposed to latex products. Medical professionals are especially at the risk. However, latex itself may not always be the main culprit. Sometimes, these adverse reactions can be caused by chemical accelerators and other sensitizing substances used in the manufacturing of natural rubber latex gloves.
For those allergic to latex, there is an assortment of latex-free gloves. However, natural rubber non-latex gloves can also contain chemical accelerators that cause adverse reactions in some wearers. One can develop an adverse reaction to different substances used in the glove production process, such as coloring pigments, preservatives, lanolin, and others.
The powder has long been used as a lubricant in the production of medical gloves, but since glove powder poses a health risk, powder-free gloves are recommended. The use of powdered gloves can lead to granulomas and adhesions in surgical patients, and the airborne powder itself can contain high amounts of bacteria and latex proteins. This can increase the risk of infections and allergic reactions in both patients and health care workers.
What about vinyl gloves? Vinyl gloves are available only as examination gloves, because vinyl offers reduced barrier protection when compared to other gloving materials. It is important to note that the incineration of vinyl can result in releasing a substance called dioxin, which is a known carcinogen.