Medical gloves are disposable gloves used during medical examinations and procedures that help prevent contamination between caregivers and patients. Medical gloves are made of different polymers including latex, nitrile rubber, vinyl and neoprene; they come unpowdered, or powdered with cornstarch to lubricate the gloves, making them easier to put on the hands. Cornstarch replaced tissue-irritating Lycopodium powder and talc, but since even cornstarch can impede healing if it gets into tissues (as during surgery), unpowdered gloves are being used more often during surgery and other sensitive procedures. Special manufacturing processes are used to compensate for the lack of powder. There are two main types of gloves: exam and surgical. Surgical gloves have more precise sizing with a better precision and sensitivity and are made to a higher standard. Exam gloves are available as either sterile or non-sterile, while surgical gloves are generally sterile.
In 1890 William Stewart Halsted was the first to use sterilized medical gloves when he was at Johns Hopkins University. With the publication of germ theory Halsted was using carbolic acid, introduced by Joseph Lister, to sterilize his hands and his nurse's hands. She was sensitive to the chemical, and it was damaging the skin on her hands; so he asked the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company if they could make a glove of rubber that could be dipped in carbolic acid.
The first disposable latex medical gloves were manufactured in 1964 by Ansell. They based the production on the technique for making condoms. These gloves have a range of clinical uses ranging from dealing with human excrement to dental applications.
Criminals have also been known to wear these gloves during the commission of their crimes. These gloves are often chosen because their thinness and tight fit allow for dexterity. However because of the thinness of these gloves, fingerprints may actually pass through the material as glove prints, thus transferring the wearer's prints onto whatever surface is touched or handled.
Alternatives to latex
Due to the increasing rate of latex allergy among health professionals, and in the general population, gloves made of non-latex materials such as vinyl, nitrile rubber, or neoprene have become widely used. Chemical processes may be employed to reduce the amount of antigenic protein in Hevea latex, resulting in alternative natural-rubber-based materials such Vytex Natural Rubber Latex. However, non-latex gloves have not yet replaced latex gloves in surgical procedures, as gloves made of alternative materials generally do not fully match the fine control or greater sensitivity to touch available with latex surgical gloves. (High-grade isoprene gloves are the only exception to this rule, as they have the same chemical structure as natural latex rubber. However, fully artificial polyisoprene—rather than "hypoallergenic" cleaned natural latex rubber—is also the most expensive natural latex substitute available.) Other high-grade non-latex gloves, such as nitrile gloves, can cost over twice the price of their latex counterparts, a fact that has often prevented switching to these alternative materials in cost-sensitive environments, such as many hospitals.
- "Medical Gloves and Gowns". FDA. Retrieved 2010-03-10. "Medical gloves are disposable gloves used during medical procedures. Medical gloves help prevent contamination between caregivers and patients. Some are designed to prevent contact with certain chemotherapy drugs. Medical gloves include examination gloves, surgical gloves, and medical gloves for handling chemotherapy agents (chemotherapy gloves). These gloves are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA makes sure that manufacturers of these devices meet performance criteria such as leak resistance, tear resistance, etc."
- "Glove manufacturing". Ansell.eu. Retrieved 2012-12-14.
- "Personal Protective Equipment FAQ". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 2013-06-08.
- "Hopkins Ceases Use Of Latex Gloves During Surgery". WJZ-TV. January 15, 2008. Retrieved 2010-03-03. "A surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital is credited with being the first to introduce the rubber surgical glove back in 1894."
- "Rubber Gloves". Johns Hopkins Hospital. January 14, 2008. Retrieved 2010-03-03. "William Stewart Halsted, The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s first surgeon in chief, is credited as the first to develop and introduce rubber surgical gloves in the United States. That was in 1894, five years after the institution opened."
- "100 Years of Australian Innovation - latex gloves". Retrieved 2010-03-07. "In 1945, Ansell designed and built the first automatic dipping machine, which produced 300 dozen pairs of synthetic gloves in eight hours. Ansell introduced disposable surgical gloves in 1964, which won the company an Export Award in 1967. International expansion over the next two decades saw Ansell become the world's largest producer of latex gloves for household and medical use."
- Weather & Time. "Do latex gloves conceal fingerprints? If so, Why?". Chacha.com. Retrieved 2012-12-14.
- "Personal Identification: Fingerprints". ScienceMan.org. Retrieved 2012-12-14.
- "Watergate". Spartacus.Schoolnet.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-12-14.
- "User Labeling for Devices that Contain Natural Rubber (21 CFR 801.437); Small Entity Compliance Guide". Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved 2012-12-14.
- "Polyisoprene Surgical Gloves". SurgicalGlove.net. Retrieved 2012-12-14.
- "Advantages and Disadvantages of Non-latex Surgical Gloves" (PDF). touchbriefings.com. Retrieved 2012-12-14.