If you were to put a nitrile and a latex glove side by side, it would probably be hard to tell the difference. On the surface, they seem pretty much the same. They look the same, come in the same colors and sizes, are similar in their matte finish and are packaged the same.
But, put those two gloves in front of a healthcare worker, and we bet they’d be able to pick out which is which nine times out of ten. For people who routinely wear gloves, and especially ones who were in the field during the proliferation of latex gloves, the differences are night and day.
Talk to most any healthcare worker and they’ll tell you which glove they prefer. An overwhelming majority choose nitrile gloves as their go to for a variety of reasons, reason we’ll dive into here.
That’s just an overly technical way of saying how much stuff each material lets through. Both latex and nitrile do a good job of protecting people from the substances they don’t want on their hands, but nitrile is a step above thanks to its synthetic nature.
Nitrile is better suited to resist:
A glove with a hole in it is as useless as no glove at all. The healthcare workers we were just discussing also turn to gloves as the only line of defense against accidental needle sticks. Needle exposure is the leading cause of disease transmission in the healthcare field and guarding against it is at the foreground of all healthcare workers’ minds.
When it comes to strength, nitrile gloves:
Anyone who is wearing gloves while doing their job wants one thing; for the gloves not to impact how well they can do it. How well a glove fits the hand, how flexible it is, and the sensitivity that is conveyed back to the wearer influence how likely someone is to use a glove.
Gloves that address all of these concerns are more likely to be used, and the wearers are less likely to make mistakes because of them, which is what everyone involved wants to hear.
When compared to their latex counterpart:
Although the factors we listed above are a big reason why so many people choose nitrile gloves over latex gloves now, they are not the driving factor for their invention.
Latex allergies have been a major risk in the healthcare field for as long as they have been utilizing latex products. Unfortunately, for many people, they weren’t aware of this allergy until a surgeon’s hands were inside their abdomen, or a latex breathing tube was placed in their airway.
Allergies are a natural part of life for humans, but the latex allergy was causing people to get sicker or even die in environments where they were seeking help for an already existing injury or illness.
According to a recent study, approximately 220 cases of anaphylaxis (severe allergic reactions) are caused by latex each year in the United States. These cases can easily end in death if not treated immediately and appropriately.
In contrast, the instance of allergic reaction to nitrile is so rare, it’s not studied or deemed an applicable threat to the general public.
It was due to this constant threat that an alternative was sought after and ultimately why nitrile gloves came into existence.
Latex has often gotten the “organic” label so fervently chased after these days. That doesn’t mean it's green or eco friendly though. Latex is derived by collecting the remnants of the rubber tree of Asia.
Nitrile is a synthetic derivative and has a much higher prevalence of renewability. While we are not going to slap the “green” label on nitrile, the current trend shows that it is more environmentally friendly than latex.
They say that if it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck. That’s true when it comes to birds, but not everything.
While on the surface, latex and nitrile gloves seem almost interchangeable, we hope that the information here has shown that they are as different as a duck and an elephant.
Nitrile gloves provide more protection against the elements and foreign substances while remaining flexible and comfortable. Their durability is unmatched and the safety for both, the user and those who come in contact with a user cannot be beat.
It’s a rare thing when two products of identical use are so contrasted in what they provide a consumer, but that is certainly the case when it comes to nitrile gloves versus latex gloves.