Exam Gloves Guide
Neobex guide series
How can you be sure that you are purchasing the right gloves for each task cost-effectively?
Neobex can help you through the reading of this guide to better understand the medical gloves industry. We want to help you save money, reduce waste, improve utilization and enhance staff satisfaction. In this regard, you as the buyer play a decisive role in achieving these objectives. Consequently, you must be fully aware of the following information.
Table of Contents
Glove material overview
With the rise in awareness of latex and chemical allergies and the increase in powder glove bans due to powder-related issues for both patients and healthcare providers, synthetic and powder-free gloves continue to gain in favor. Today, technology and the free market make it possible to manufacture gloves with several different materials. Each glove type offers unique advantages but simultaneously come with a certain degree of compromise in terms of barrier protection, durability, sensitivity, comfort, and cost even with the technological advancements in manufacturing. No single glove provides the “perfect” solution for all applications, and it is nearly impossible for a healthcare facility to standardize on a single type of glove material to meet all their needs.
The 4 Most Common Exam Gloves
Nitrile & Vinyl blend
Excellent fit, feel, dexterity, and comfort are the key characteristics of latex disposable gloves. It is not for random that most condoms are made of latex.
Latex is the most elastic and durable material available. It is more flexible than nitrile or vinyl and has a higher tactile sensitivity. Latex is a form of natural rubber derived from the sap of the mature Hevea brasiliensis tree, which is native of South America but also grows in Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. In the early twentieth century, it supplanted the Indian rubber plant as the main source of natural rubber. When the sap is extracted, it must be chemically prepared using a method known as vulcanization, which was first patented in the United States in 1844 by Charles Goodyear. Natural rubber is vulcanised to make the polymers more flexible and stretchable. Latex has historically been the most commonly used material in medical applications due to its superior fit and feel, but nitrile and vinyl are gaining popularity over general examination gloves due to allergy issues and vinyl’s lower cost.
While powdered latex gloves were banned for medical use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration in January 2017, powder free latex gloves are still accessible. Automotive, janitorial, and other applications such as paint shops and printing operations all use industrial-grade latex gloves. They’re also used in the food manufacturing and service industries. Exam grade gloves are appropriate for a wide range of medical, dental, and laboratory applications, as well as non-surgical procedures and EMS uses, depending on jurisdiction.
Latex allergies affect less than 1% of the population in the United States (about 3 million people). Since daily use of latex-containing products can cause sensitivity, this number rises between 8% and 17% of health-care staff. Even if there was no prior allergy, some people might experience a contact dermatitis reaction.
Gloves may be washed in a chlorinated solution to minimize latex proteins but will not completely remove them. Chlorination softens gloves as well, but it shortens their shelf life. Latex gloves are more puncture resistant than vinyl gloves, but they are not as strong as nitrile gloves. Latex pricing is subject to fluctuation due to factors that affect any natural resource, including weather and economic instability.
Vinyl gloves consist of only PVC monomers, making them more cost-effective than nitrile and avoiding latex allergy concerns.
Vinyl gloves, the second generation of protective gloves after latex, are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It is usually rigid, but it is combined with a plasticizer to make it smooth and flexible enough to mold into gloves. Vinyl gloves, which are made entirely of PVC monomers, are less expensive than nitrile gloves, which are often made of synthetic materials. During 19th-century experiments, scientists made the unintentional discovery of vinyl. When a German inventor Friedrich Heinrich August Klatte discovered a way to polymerize vinyl chloride using sunlight in 1913, he patented the material. Since then, researchers have figured out which additives to use to make the material more versatile. PVC is used to make bottles, pipes and plumbing fixtures, toys, credit cards, rain gutters, and a variety of other items, in addition to disposable gloves. Vinyl gloves are available in powdered and powder-free versions, as well as industrial and exam grades.
Vinyl has a looser fit than latex or nitrile, making it more comfortable but less tactile sensitivite. It removes latex allergy issues while still avoiding nitrile gloves’ petroleum properties. Vinyl is a cost-effective choice, particularly for applications that require frequent glove changes. As a result, it is widely used in the food service, beauty & salon, and janitorial industries. Although most vinyl gloves are transparent or ivory in color, some are blue and designed for food processing. If a piece of the blue glove detaches and gets into the food, it can be seen and removed more quickly.
Vinyl gloves consist of only PVC monomers, making them more cost-effective than nitrile and avoiding latex allergy concerns.
German chemists Erich Konrad and Eduard Tschunkur patented nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR) in 1934 and commercial development began in earnest in the 1930s for uses such as tire manufacturing and rubber seals. After developing the first 100 percent nitrile disposable glove in 1991, Neil Tillotson and Luc DeBecker were awarded a patent for nitrile exam glove technology. Nitrile gloves were late to catch on in the medical community, but they quickly became the “Next Big Thing” in the hand protection sector at the expense of latex.
Nitrile is currently the most widely recommended disposable glove. The material is stronger than latex or vinyl, with a latex-like fit, feel, and comfort. Nitrile has three times the puncture resistance of latex, as well as three times the abrasion and chemical resistance. It is recommended for working with 3/4 of common chemicals on the market. Mineral oils, vegetable oils, grease, gasoline, diesel fuel, and a variety of acids are all resisted by nitrile. Nitrile does not aggravate latex allergies because it is free of organic latex proteins. This is important not only for latex-sensitive individuals, but also for consumers who come into close physical contact with the general public, such as medical and dental practitioners, security officers, tattoo artists, and salon employees. Nitrile gloves are not only widely adopted in the medical industry but also in automotive, construction, janitorial, plumbing, paint shop, chemical, and industrial applications. They’re also ideal for use in the food processing Nitrile gloves are available in two grades: industrial and exam. As nitrile gloves warm up from your body heat, they conform to your hands for a more uniform and comfortable fit. The cost of petroleum determines the price. Nitrile gloves are more costly than other fabrics, but they are more durable and suitable for long-term use. The thickness of many industrial-grade nitrile gloves is increased to better withstand more demanding applications. Nitrile gloves often last longer than natural latex rubber gloves.
Blend (Nitrile & Vinyl)
The PVC Nitrile blend glove is a new form of synthetic glove created using vinyl glove manufacturing technology.
The blend gloves are the fourth generation of protective gloves after nitrile and are relatively new in the industry. These gloves are made of PVC vinyl paste and nitrile, giving it partly the benefits of both materials in one package. The nitrile & vinyl blended hybrid gloves are manufactured with an efficient compound of vinyl resin and nitrile through a special method that does not use natural rubber latex. They are less expensive than Nitrile but provide greater tactile sensitivity, tensile strength, and puncture resistance than vinyl but not as much as nitrile. This glove has good value for cost if you need a modest amount of dexterity and durability. They are the economical substitute of Nitrile for latex-sensitive workers.
The demand for nitrile gloves has gradually increased over time, which is why the industry has produced a wide range of nitrile gloves solutions to accommodate a wide range of workplace applications. Vinyl gloves, on the other hand, are still a common disposable glove choice for many workplaces due to their ease of use and the fact that they are often a less costly option for workplaces with a high glove turnover. It became clear to the industry that a vinyl-nitrile hybrid could be an ideal alternative option for non-medical consumers, providing not only a high level of safety but also a superior level of comfort and dexterity, as well as good value for cost. Blend gloves offer a high level of elasticity and comfort, providing the wearer with a superior fit, firm grip, and greater dexterity, touch sensitivity, and comfort where vinyl gloves are less elastic than nitrile varieties and do not fit tightly against the palm, where nitrile is too expensive, and where latex is a concern due to allergies. Hybrid vinyl nitrile gloves are used in a variety of industries, including the food industry, simple manipulation in eldercare and hygiene, cleaning and in technology manufacturing.
Materials Recap Chart
The glove materials must be aligned with your specific job and budget.
Pinholes & AQL
Exam or industriel grade?
After the disposable gloves have been made and dried, they are thoroughly inspected before being packed and sold. Gloves’ essential necessity, whether in industrial applications involving harsh chemicals or medical applications involving potential exposure to bloodborne infections, is that users’ hands be covered to be protected. To meet the US Food and Drug Administration’s safety criteria, exam-grade gloves must pass several tests. Gloves are puncture and abrasion resistant, have their tension and elongation evaluated, and have their chemical resistance evaluated. The FDA has established acceptable quality limits (AQL) for glove inspection. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), which establishes standards for industries all over the world, developed AQL testing procedures. The AQL method is a percentage-based method that applies to sample of gloves. For example, in a sample of 100 gloves with an AQL of 3.0, only three gloves can fail the test. (The AQL for medical-grade gloves is 2.5 or less). If more than three gloves fail to satisfy the criteria, the entire sample fails. Manufacturers will examine the manufacturing process in this situation to see what needs to be changed. A lower AQL number represents a higher quality product.
The FDA does not consider a glove to be “approved” if it fails the ASTM tests; however, it may be “accepted.” This implies that, while all glove manufacturers strive to comply with FDA regulations, a few may fall short. The AQL score for medical-grade gloves is lower due to the hazards in the medical industry. Various inspections are performed during glove quality testing. The pinhole leak test establishes if gloves are suitable for medical uses by checking for barrier integrity. Even the smallest crack in the glove’s material might allow viruses to enter. Manufacturers fill the gloves with one liter of water, close the cuffs, then hang the gloves upside down in this test. Gloves that do not leak during the testing process are approved for medical use.
It doesn’t mean a glove isn’t safe just because it isn’t formally “certified.” The term “sterile” does not apply to exam gloves. Surgical gloves that have been irradiated are the only ones that are considered sterile.
Glove material thickness is usually measured in mils which is a thousandth of an inch (1 inch = 1000 mils). Medical disposable gloves generally range from 2-10 mils in thickness. A thicker gauge glove will provide more protection than a thinner glove of the same material, but often at the expense of touch-sensitivity and dexterity. Double-gloving can be used to increase the total breakthrough time of a particular glove, but this increases hand fatigue and overheating and is recommended only for short-duration tasks.
When gloves are made, ceramic hand-shaped molds with fingers pointing downward are placed on the assembly line. Gravity pushes the solution down toward the glove’s bottom as the molds pass along the line. Once the gloves are completely dried, the fingers will be the thickest part of the glove, while the palm and wrists will be the thinnest.
In most applications, disposable gloves endure the most wear and tear on the fingers. Glove thickness is measured in addition to gravity by repeatedly dipping the molds into the solution. A new layer of solution is applied each time they are dipped. Consequently, it is important to be aware of the glove thickness at the fingertips, palm and cuff because it generally will not be uniform. There is a clear correlation between thickness, material, and chemical resistance in the application and usage of disposable gloves. Chemical and mechanical resistance increases as the glove’s thickness increases but dexterity decreases. Thicker gloves are more expensive to make, and therefore cost more. According to glove manufacturers, doubling the thickness of a glove quadruples the chemical breakthrough period.
Even under extreme conditions, disposable gloves have to offer maximum safety. Therefore, robustness and tensile strength are of crucial importance. Strength tests simulate stress during actual usage. Glove strength is measured by resistance to tearing as well as by stretch ability. Testing typically covers tensile strength, and elongation. ASTM D412 regulates the minimum tensile proprieties requirements.
Texture & Surface
When it comes to choosing the correct glove for the job, texture is crucial. It starts on the glove molds during the manufacturing process. Sandblasting, which employs ceramic balls and pressured air to generate texture on the surface of the material, and spray-on, which directly applies a coating, are the two methods used to generate roughened and micro-roughened texture. The methods are fundamentally the same, but the patterns and client preferences are different. On larger gloves, sandblasting is utilized, on thinner gloves, spray-on is employed. Gloves can be textured all over, on the fingers, on the fingertips, on the inner palm and fingers, or on both sides. Both sides of an ambidextrous glove, as most disposable gloves are, are textured. Gloves with textured surfaces provide a better grip. The textures range from micro-roughening for basic needs to an aggressive raised diamond texture that directs liquids away from the grip even when the gloves are wet.
Most of these gloves are composed of vinyl and have no texture. Smooth gloves are ideal for tasks where a precise grasp isn’t required, such as salon care, food preparation, and food service.
Disposable gloves with the strongest texture. The raised diamonds of this pattern have channels between them that allow liquids to move through, allowing for more surface contact and improved grip. The raised diamond texture is great for holding wet or slippery small objects and tools. Gloves with a rough texture demand more material, so they’re thicker and more protective. These gloves are most suited to automotive and manufacturing applications, with lesser use in medical situations.
Used mostly for nitrile and latex gloves.. In fact, textured nitrile gloves account for 95% of all nitrile gloves. The surface of these gloves appear to be lightly sanded. They’re ideal for medical applications since they provide a better grip for handling equipment and small objects without having an exaggerated surface that could irritate patients.
Lenght & Cuff
The cuff length of a disposable glove is associated with the additional covered area of the wrist. The cuffs on most disposable gloves are rolled to make the glove easier to don. The rolled edge reinforces the glove so you can pull it on without tearing. The cuff length of a standard disposable glove is a 9.0″ cuff which covers only a small area of the wrist. Extra-length (12″ cuff) gloves are essential if you must ensure protection of the lower arm.
The nature and possible hazard of the compounds handled, as well as the type of exposure, should guide glove selection. Thin disposable gloves are developed for only accidental chemical contact. They offer good tactility and comfort but offer very basic chemical protection. In general, greater thickness corresponds to a longer break through periods but only for the same material. Because of their superior chemical resistance, nitrile gloves are frequently preferred over disposable latex, vinyl, and blend gloves. If in doubt, please contact the glove manufacturer and ask for assistance in selecting the most appropriate glove because chemical resistance and exposure rate depends on the material type and thickness. Some are good for total immersion, for accidental splash protection and intermittent contact or, to only be used with extreme caution because the glove will fail with only a short exposure period depending on chemical types.
Which gloves can be used when handling chemotherapy drugs?
Cytotoxic medicines are extremely toxic and are increasingly being used as cancer treatment agents. Hand protection from chemotherapy drug exposure is critical, which is why gloves should be chosen based on the type of chemical being utilized. For the handling of cytotoxic chemicals, a nitrile examination glove may be a great alternative. Gloves that are ASTM D6978 certified for resistance to chemotherapeutic medicines should always be used in any scenario. Before using gloves, make sure they are free of damage. Furthermore, for added protection, double donning is recommended.
The process by which a chemical diffuses and passes through undamaged glove material is known as permeation. The breakthrough time, which is the amount of time it takes for a chemical to flow entirely through a material, is commonly used to signify it.
Penetration is the process of a chemical moving via pinholes, seams, or other flaws in a glove.
Degradation refers to the material’s physical deterioration as a result of contact with a chemical, which might cause it to shrink or swell, stiffen, or change its structure.
Finish & Treatment
There are many manufacturing procedures that make it easier to put on and take off gloves with additional surface treatment.
The fundamental difference in a glove’s finish is whether the inside is powdered or not. Powdered gloves, which are coated on the inside with food-grade cornstarch for easy changes when hands are wet, are preferred by some people. They are popular in applications where there is a lot of moisture. Glove molds were traditionally powdered to make removing the gloves from the mold easier. As a result, powder was already on the glove, and those that were made powder-free required an additional process to remove the residue. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned powdered latex exam gloves from sale in the United States in January 2017 due to concerns that the cornstarch could impede wound healing and serve as a vehicle for the transmission of latex allergy. During the production process, powder-free gloves are given three different finishes :
Gloves with a polymer coating on the inside (silicones, acrylics, and hydrogels) have a smoother finish and less surface friction, making them easier to put on and take off. They are commonly applied to nitrile gloves as they are the premium gloves. It is important to be aware that skin irritation can be an important problem for healthcare professionals. It is no secret that the constant cycle of washing and gelling can leave healthcare professional’s hands feeling dry and uncomfortable. Irritated hands make it difficult to comfortably care for patients and some inside coating can nourish the hands of the glove wearer or at least limit the hand’s skin irritation.
Gloves are chlorinated by being washed in a solution or with chlorine gas, giving them a softer texture and a more comfortable feel as well as making them easier to put on and take off. After that, they are completely rinsed. Chlorination lowers the amount of remaining latex proteins in latex gloves to prevent allergic reaction. Because latex is tackier by nature, double chlorination is utilized in some gloves, notably thicker latex gloves, to make donning and doffing easier.
Polyurethane is frequently applied on the inside of vinyl gloves to reduce surface tackiness and make the glove simpler to put on and remove.
Glove count per box considerably affects the dimension of the box. We often remind our customers to take into consideration the size of the box to ensure that the boxes can fit properly in their facility dispensers. Most of the dispensers are universal, despite everything, it is better to be far-sighted. Usually, with more gloves packaged in each box, you can lower the small risk of running out of gloves in the box and save valuable time because you have less resupplying. Some boxes have a barrier film to help keep gloves in the box as it empties. So, you take only what you need and improve efficiency which in turn reduces waste.
Disposable gloves come in a wide range of colors, many of which are linked with specific purposes.
Color coding in medical environments can help health care professionals in distinguishing between latex and nitrile glove materials. This makes it simple for hospitals to train their healthcare personnel on which exam glove to use in different situations. Nitrile exam gloves are often blue, while latex exam gloves are often white. Black is popular among automotive technicians because it hides filth, grease, and grime while still projecting a professional image. Tattoo artists, police and security professionals, as well as kitchen and front-of-house staff at many high-end restaurants, also prefer black. Nitrile gloves also come in high-visibility colors like orange, green and yellow in blue collar environments. These bright colors provide additional protection because they make it easier to detect hands in dark working conditions, as well as for managers to ensure that employees are wearing gloves. Some workplaces demand more than a worker’s personal preferences. Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a management system that regulates food processing facility safety, including raw food production, procedures, and handling, as well as final product manufacturing and distribution. To avoid cross contamination, HACCP governs the steps of food production.
Cleaning and preparation of raw foods. For example, it may be the initial stage, followed by cooking raw foods, handling and preparing cooked meals for packaging, and lastly packaging and shipment. A color-coded system of personal protective equipment and disposable gloves will typically be used to easily identify each stage. To avoid cross contamination, no worker wearing the wrong color is allowed to enter a separate production location without first washing and changing their gear. Color coding will also help people with allergies prevent cross contamination in factories, restaurants and kitchens. Color coding is also popular in manufacturing facilities with groups of workers changing shifts throughout the week and workday. Morning, midday, and night shift workers would wear distinct colors. This is a frequent practice in manufacturing and processing industries where product and process security is essential. By color-coding employees according to processes, no one will be unaware of the full process from start to finish.
Sterile & Surgical
Because of the sterilization process, higher AQL standards, and stricter packaging standards, sterile gloves are more expensive than non-sterile gloves.
In medical examinations and other non-surgical conditions where protection against bacteria, parasites, or bodily fluids is required, non-sterile medical grade gloves are routinely employed. Sterile gloves are required in surgical settings. A sterile glove is one step beyond a clean glove, in that it is free of bacteria and germs. There is no micro-life form that may multiply and spread hazardous germs or bacteria when a glove is sterile. In operations and other medical settings when the patient is at high danger of infection, sterile gloves are utilized.
Because they have been sterilized according to FDA guidelines, sterile gloves are considered sterile. All sterilizing processes must meet the FDA’s SAL (standard assurance level). When this requirement is satisfied, the glove has a one in one million) probability of being non-sterile. Even if extremely resistant germs were present before sterilization, the approved sterilization techniques can sanitize gloves. Non-sterile gloves are typically sterilized by someone other than the glove maker. After the gloves have been sterilized, they must be checked to confirm that they fulfil FDA SAL requirements. Sterile gloves are packaged in individual pairs in order to keep new gloves completely free from any germs. Sterile gloves have a higher AQL (acceptable quality level) of pinholes. Surgical (sterile) gloves have an AQL of 1.0 to 1.5, while non-sterile examination gloves have an AQL of 1.5 to 2.5. With an AQL of 1, no more than 1% of the gloves in a sample set have pinholes. With an AQL of 2.5, no more than 2.5% of all gloves in a sample set had pinholes. Consequently, Sterile gloves are always utilized in surgical procedures. Sterile gloves are more expensive than non-sterile gloves due to the sterilizing procedure, higher AQL criteria, and stricter packaging norms. Non-sterile gloves are used for the majority of non-surgical medical operations because they are less expensive than sterile gloves and have been determined to represent no increased risk of infection for non-surgical operations when compared to sterile gloves.
What is the allergy potential of disposable gloves?
Water soluble proteins removed from natural latex gloves by sweat can induce allergies and are one of the most common causes of allergic reactions to disposable gloves. Natural latex protein allergy is classified as an instant type (Type I) allergy. Type IV (delayed) allergies are allergic reactions to chemicals utilized in the manufacturing process.
How can one avoid developing a latex allergy?
Latex allergies can be avoided by using gloves that are not made of natural latex, such as nitrile or PVC gloves, or powder-free latex gloves with a low protein content. Furthermore, regular skin care, such as proper hand drying after washing and the application of lotion on a regular basis, can help prevent allergies.
Is there a limit to the protein content of latex gloves?
Powder-free gloves go through a thorough leaching and washing procedure to ensure that the amount of leachable protein is kept to a minimum. When employing natural rubber latex gloves, however, it is impossible to totally remove allergenic protein exposure, and there is no specified safe limit. As a result, every glove made from NR must explicitly state on the primary packaging that it contains natural rubber latex, as well as provide a warning that the product may cause allergic reactions.
Donning & Removing
How To Don Gloves :
1. Take out a glove from its original box.
2. Touch only a restricted surface of the glove corresponding to the wrist (at the top edge of the cuff).
3. Don the first glove.
4. Take the second glove with the bare hand and touch only a restricted surface of glove corresponding to the wrist.
5. To avoid touching the skin of the forearm with the gloved hand, turn the external surface of the glove to be donned on the folded fingers of the gloved hand, thus permitting to glove the second hand.
6. Once gloved, hands should not touch anything else that I not defined by indications and conditions for gloves use.
How To Remove Gloves :
1. Pinch one glove at the wrist level to remove it, without touching the skin of the forearm, and peel away from the hand, thus allowing the glove to turn inside out.
2. Hold the removed glove in the gloved hand and slide the fingers of the ungloved hand inside between the glove and the wrist. Remove the second glove by rolling it down the hand and fold into the first glove.
3. Discard the removed gloves.
Presence of pinholes
Low levels of protein
Conformity of sizes
Resistance to pathogens
Prolongated exposition to liquid