Types of Medical Gloves and Their Uses

No matter what your responsibilities are as a professional in the medical field, it is likely that you are required to wear the right protective gear. Part of this gear includes disposable gloves that can protect the hands and prevent skin contact with harsh chemicals, blood borne pathogens and other hazardous substances. The gloves must also have a high puncture resistance since most medical professionals work with scalpels, surgical tools and needles.


There are two types of medical gloves available, exam gloves and surgical gloves. Each glove is meant to serve specific tasks while protecting the skin and preventing cross-contamination. Disposable medical gloves are available in nitrile, latex and vinyl materials. Any gloves worn by health professionals should be free of powder, sterile, textured and coated for extra protection. Nitrile tends to be the most favored glove material for those working in the healthcare industry.


About Exam Gloves

Healthcare professionals working as caregivers are required to protect themselves and others from cross contamination during exams and procedures. They are great for use in unsanitary situations and can be disposed of after every use. Medical exam gloves don’t have to be made of the highest quality or thickest material. They can be purchased in latex, vinyl or nitrile with a thickness level that suits the needs of the employees in need of exam gloves.


About Surgical Gloves

Surgical gloves are worn by surgeons and other health professionals that have direct contact with blood, infections, sharp tools and other harmful objects and substances that could cause extreme illness or infection. For those who must wear surgical gloves, it’s important that they are of high quality. A lot of surgeons prefer nitrile gloves due to their extreme durability and puncture resistance.


Information and Specs for Latex, Vinyl and Nitrile Gloves


Latex Gloves

  • Powdered or powder-free
  • Flexible
  • Great fit
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Moderate protection
  • Can cause allergies and skin irritation


Vinyl Gloves


  • High quality yet cost effective
  • Made from PVC
  • Moderate protection
  • Soft and comfortable
  • Latex-free
  • Not as durable
  • Sensitive to the touch


Nitrile Gloves


  • Protein-free
  • Latex-free
  • Allergy-free
  • Chemical and puncture resistant
  • Higher level of protection and durability


Powdered VS Powder-Free Gloves

Latex gloves were once the preferred choice of hand protection for many medical professionals. Latex gloves often have a powder coating on the surface to make them easier to put on and take off in a hurry. However, the powder is known to cause skin irritation especially after prolonged use. It may also cause issues for those with respiratory issues once it’s accidently inhaled. Fortunately, with all the advancements made, disposable glove manufacturers have found ways to create gloves that are still easy to put on and take off without having powder on the surface of the glove known as “powder free” gloves.


About Allergies to Latex

It is extremely common for people to have allergies to latex which makes it uncomfortable and harmful for them to wear this type of disposable gloves while working. Even those without allergies to latex initially may find that after frequent and on-going use, they form allergies to the material. To eliminate the concern of allergens, powder-free gloves made of nitrile or vinyl should be worn instead.