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Latex medical gloves
For: Best for fit
Against: Allergic reactions
Latex disposable exam gloves have been the glove of choice for the healthcare industry for over 100 years and for good reason. Durable and comfortable, they are unsurpassed when it comes to tactile sensitivity and fit.
The manufacturing process is straightforward, and the raw latex material is formulated with chemical compounds. This impacts the glove’s ultimate tensile strength and flexibility and plays a major role in determining the end quality.
The downside to medical gloves made of latex is the possibility of allergies: whilst 6% of the population have a latex allergy, it’s thought that somewhere between 8%-17% of healthcare workers are affected.
Vinyl medical gloves
For: Value for money
Against: Not suited to high-risk conditions
Vinyl gloves are made from the synthetic material polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and as they are latex-free, they are a good alternative to latex medical gloves for people who have allergies.
While they’re comfortable to wear and provide standard barrier protection, they shouldn’t be used in high-risk or hazardous conditions, for example when handling chemotherapy drugs. However, they are suited to most scenarios within a hospital or care environment.
Nitrile medical gloves
For: Resilient and latex-free
Against: Higher unit cost
Nitrile gloves are increasingly popular amongst members of the medical and care professions and are often the latex-free glove of choice.
Resilient and chemical resistant, these synthetic examination gloves are an effective barrier against blood-borne pathogens. They are also three times more puncture resistant than standard latex gloves.
However, not all nitrile gloves offer the same level of protection. There are variations in thickness and formulation, so ask for advice if you are not sure.