Exam gloves, also known as surgical or medical gloves, have long been a staple in clinical settings such as hospitals, dental offices, and outpatient clinics. They’ve also been a staple in other professions, such as mechanic shops and food industries. These disposable, single-use gloves are designed to protect the wearer from contact with someone else’s body blood, respiratory secretions, or other body fluids as part of a comprehensive infection control strategy.
At Copper Star Home Medical, we carry various product selections to meet all needs. We have BOTH vinyl and nitrile gloves, and a brief comparison between the two is nitrile gloves are latex free (for those with sensitive skin conditions) but without the loose fitting of a vinyl glove.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of good hand hygiene and the need to avoid contact with surfaces that could be contaminated with the coronavirus. To help you understand how exam gloves can be used to protect yourself and when you should consider wearing gloves, we’ve prepared the following list of FAQs about exam gloves:
1) What do the Centers for Disease Control say about wearing gloves during COVID-19?
According to the CDC, the general public should wear gloves when cleaning or caring for someone sick.
The CDC states that you should “use disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting the area around the person who is sick” and “when touching or having contact with blood, stool, or body fluids, such as saliva.”
2) Do I need to wear surgical gloves at work?
That depends on where you work, your job, and company policies. It also depends on your personal preference and your medical profile.
3) I’ve heard that gloves shouldn’t be used as a substitute for hand washing – is that true?
Frequent hand washing with soap that creates a robust lather is considered one of the most effective ways to limit the spread of highly contagious viral diseases such as influenza and COVID-19.
Unfortunately, washing your hands using sound surgical techniques several times daily can lead to dry, cracked skin on the hands, increasing your chances of contracting an infectious disease. It makes using alcohol-based hand sanitizer very painful.
Exam gloves can reduce the risks associated with touching surfaces that may be contaminated because the gloves create a barrier between your skin and any germs you may touch. For example, some people opt to wear medical gloves while pumping gas, shopping for groceries, or engaging in other behaviors that might expose them to contaminated surfaces.
4) Why do some experts advise against wearing exam gloves?
As with any other type of personal protective equipment, or PPE, exam gloves must be worn and disposed of correctly.
Some experts have expressed concerns that medical gloves may give the general public a false sense of security and that unless exam gloves are appropriately used, they could increase the risk of contracting a surface-borne viral disease such as COVID-19.
When exam gloves are appropriately worn, and users remember not to touch their eyes, nose, or mouth, gloves can add an extra layer of protection and peace of mind.
5) Shouldn’t people use hand sanitizer instead of exam gloves?
While alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol have been proven effective against COVID-19, overuse of these products can lead to skin irritation. Another issue some people face is allergic contact dermatitis, an allergy to the non-active ingredients found in some standard hand sanitizers.
Those who suspect they have an allergy or sensitivity to hand sanitizers may opt to use exam gloves in situations where they might otherwise use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
Contact our PPE experts at Copper Star Home Medical for more information on exam gloves.