Why use nitrile? Why use latex? What's the difference? Aren't all disposable exam gloves the same? All medical exam gloves are not the same and there are huge differences between latex and Nitrile gloves. Although often compared, latex gloves and Nitrile gloves are not strictly competitors. Because of their different respective strengths and weaknesses, nitrile and latex gloves each have their own separate spheres of use. However because of some similarities and crossover uses, many people confuse nitrile and latex. Don't confuse nitrile with latex or latex with nitrile. Click ahead to find out why and how.
The term Latex Exam Gloves refers to exam gloves manufactured out of natural latex. Natural latex is a type of plant-based rubber that is extremely soft and flexible. Users of latex gloves often describe them as a "second-skin." Latex Exam Gloves are used in many applications where dexterity is important and the feel of the object being handled by the glove is necessary. Often, surgical gloves will be made of latex for this reason. latex gloves are often lightly powdered in starch to make them easier to handle and put on.
But because latex gloves are all-natural, the proteins in the material can cause severe allergic reactions. latex allergies are fairly common and range from slight discomfort and rashes to the possibility of anaphylactic shock, especially in children. With the ubiquitous use of latex products in health care settings, management of latex allergy presents significant health organizational problems. Healthcare workers who frequently use latex gloves and other latex-containing medical supplies such as physicians, nurses, aides, dentists, dental hygienists, operating room employees, laboratory technicians, and hospital housekeeping personnel are at risk for developing latex allergy through use. Not only the rubber in the gloves themselves, but the powders used on the gloves can cause allergies and physical irritation.
Nitrile gloves are a more hypoallergenic choice. Created from synthetic rubbers, the incidence of nitrile rubber allergy is extremely low. Nitrile gloves are not packed in powder and are easy to handle directly on removal from the box. Nitrile gloves are considered to be the ideal choice in emergency situations when the allergy status of a patient or user is not known. Nitrile gloves are extremely durable and puncture resistant. Nitrile gloves can withstand exposure to oils, solvents, and chemicals which easily destroy natural latex gloves.
Nitrile gloves however are not as soft as latex gloves, and are not known for being easy to wear. In fact, their strength is a weakness when dealing with applications that require fine movements and dexterity. nitrile is also slightly more expensive to produce.
Nitrile gloves are becoming a standard medical supply for hospitals and emergency personnel. But they are also being used by police officers, security guards, housekeepers, factory workers and veterinarians. latex gloves, on the other hand, are still widely used by surgeons and doctors performing minor procedures. latex is used in some industrial applications where fine movements of the hands are required. In situations where the public is involved or where unknown people can be exposed to latex, it's increasingly rare to see latex gloves used. Nitrile Exam Gloves and Latex Exam Gloves each have their place and should not be confused. While both have medical and industrial uses, using one in place of the other can be a costly and sometimes dangerous mistake.
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