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Guide to Choosing and Using Medical Gloves

Medical gloves play an integral role in maintaining hygiene and preventing infection during patient care. However, with several options available, it's crucial to understand the differences and how to use them correctly. This guide outlines the three common types of gloves, their application and removal, as well as disposal.

Types of Medical Gloves

Medical gloves come in three primary types: latex, nitrile, and vinyl. Each has its unique properties and potential allergenic concerns.

  • Latex Gloves: These are the old-fashioned type. Remember, some individuals, including patients, may have latex allergies.
  • Nitrile Gloves: Nitrile gloves are most commonly used in healthcare settings due to their latex-free nature. They come in powdered and unpowdered versions. However, note that some people may be allergic to the powder. NHS staff predominantly use the unpowdered version.
  • Vinyl Gloves: Vinyl gloves are usually cheaper, but they are more brittle and less comfortable to use. Therefore, they are less preferred.

We'll focus on nitrile, non-latex, non-powdered gloves. Remember, these gloves are not sterile. They primarily serve as a barrier between the healthcare provider and patient's bodily fluids, such as blood, saliva, vomit or faeces.

How to Wear Medical Gloves

Applying medical gloves is straightforward, especially with dry hands. Put your fingers into the glove, reaching to its tips, then unroll the glove up your wrist. If a glove tears during application, replace it. Damaged gloves compromise the protective barrier. Note that sharp rings may easily cut the gloves, so it's advisable to wear minimal jewellery, preferably only a wedding ring, while working in a medical environment.

Once your gloves are in place, you're safe to touch or treat patients. Ensure the gloves fit well for optimal dexterity and comfort. Gloves come in small, medium, and large sizes, so it's important to find your correct size. Ill-fitting gloves can tear easily or restrict hand movement.

How to Remove and Dispose of Medical Gloves

After treatment, gloves should be removed and disposed of properly. To do this, hold the outside of one glove, roll and fold it down your hand, and remove it. If you have small dressings or other items, you can hold them while removing the glove to seal them into a bag for safe disposal.

Hold the removed glove with your still gloved hand. Then, insert your bare hand's fingers inside the lip of the other glove and roll it down. This ensures the outside, which has been in contact with the patient, is now on the inside. Dispose of the gloves in a yellow disposable contamination bag.

Remember, proper disposal is crucial as the gloves have been in contact with body fluids and can pose a risk of infection. Therefore, they should not be dropped on the floor or left to blow down the street.