Choosing which gloves to purchase can be hard, especially when there are so many options available. To get started, you need to understand the different materials and functionality of the three main types of disposable gloves: latex, nitrile and vinyl. If you coul speed-date gloves, this is what they would say about themselves:
Latex is a natural material that is made from rubber. Because of the rubber-like material, latex gloves have high elasticity and fit like a second skin. The thin and tight-fitting nature of latex gloves gives
you a great deal of dexterity, tactility and comfort. The gloves also offer protection against bacteria, viruses and body fluids.
However, while their thinness increases touch sensitivity, it also increases the risk of punctures. Compared to nitrile gloves, latex gloves are more easily ripped or perforated by sharp objects.
Despite the possibility of being punctured, the main reason for finding an alternative to latex gloves is latex allergies. Latex allergies are quite common and cause symptoms including hives, itching, stuffy or runny nose and can increase asthma symptoms like wheezing and chest tightness. If latex allergies are a concern, nitrile gloves are an ideal option.
Latex gloves are ideal for those who must wear gloves for extended
periods of time like medical personnel or beauty, janitorial and automotive professionals.
Nitrile gloves are ideal for those with a latex allergy because they
are made from a synthetic rubber that is latex-free. Nitrile is the
superior option for puncture resistance and general durability. Nitrile gloves also typically offer better chemical resistance compared
to latex and vinyl gloves. However, nitrile gloves are typically more
expensive and are rarely biodegradable.
Nitrile gloves are ideal for those in the medical field, especially first
responders who are in high-risk situations involving infectious materials. Nitrile gloves are also great for tattoo artists, mechanics or hair stylists who prefer a high-level of barrier protection.
Vinyl gloves offer an additional latex-free option. They are loose-fitting and are generally used for short-term, low risk tasks where cost is a factor. Since vinyl is the most affordable glove material, they are a great cost-conscious disposable glove option.
Vinyl gloves are ideal for the food preparation industry, janitorial
industry or for everyday casual wear to protect against germs and
other substances. Vinyl gloves are not recommended for the medical field because they have a low protection level. They offer limited
protection against biomedical exposure and are not as chemically
resistant as nitrile gloves.
Because of their looser fit, vinyl gloves are easier and quicker to put on, but are not as comfortable to wear for long periods of time. They also do not offer as much dexterity as latex gloves or as much
durability and thickness as nitrile gloves.
When choosing gloves or other personal protective equipment (PPE), the determining factor should be risk mitigation. Depending on the task you are preparing for, choose gloves with the material that can protect you and act as a barrier against germs and other substances.
Decide what characteristics you need most and remember, read the product specifications before purchasing!
This blog is meant for educational purposes about medical products, medical devices, and related subjects only. It contains only general information about medical products. It is not meant to be medical or clinical advice and should not be treated as such. The information contained in this blog is provided “as is” without any representations or warranties. Emergency Medical Products, Inc. (“EMP”) makes no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy of information, the products discussed, or advice given in connection with this blog. EMP is not a medical provider and is not engaged in providing medical or clinical advice. This blog may contain external links to EMP’s website where certain medical products and medical devices can be purchased from EMP.