The first surgical gloves were invented in the late 1800s. However, they weren’t used as frequently as they are today. In the height of the HIV and AIDS crisis during the 1980s and early ‘90s, medical professionals used personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves and others from potentially harmful bodily fluids. At the time, latex disposable gloves were the most common types of surgical and exam gloves.
Although latex gloves are comfortable and cost-effective, many wearers experience allergic reactions to the material. This created a demand for alternative types of gloves for use in the medical field. Vinyl and nitrile glove materials were developed to solve this problem. Although these gloves offered increased durability, they were initially quite expensive.
Modern nitrile gloves are now much more affordable and are often regarded as the go-to option for high-risk medical procedures. While the majority of surgical gloves are still made from latex, nitrile is gaining popularity.
What are Nitrile Gloves?
Nitrile rubber is a synthetic rubber compound that combines acrylonitrile and butadiene. It is commonly used in the medical, food, and sanitation industries. Due to its temperature tolerance, durability, and strength, it is an excellent material for making surgical gloves, particularly for people with latex allergies.
Benefits of Nitrile Gloves
When deciding on what PPE for your facility, consider the following benefits of nitrile gloves.
Nitrile allergies are very rare compared to natural rubber latex, where almost 10% of healthcare workers and over 7% of vulnerable patients may experience a reaction, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). In emergencies, taking allergy checks can cause unnecessary delays in starting a procedure. Using nitrile gloves also helps avoid causing accidental allergic reactions.
Nitrile rubber has a superior puncture and chemical resistance to natural rubber or vinyl gloves. This means that nitrile gloves are very versatile. The material is ideal for medical examination gloves, surgical gloves and to prevent contamination when handling hazardous materials such as chemotherapy drugs. Because of the versatility and strength of nitrile, the gloves are also often used for automotive and manufacturing work.
Nitrile surgical gloves have a longer shelf life than latex and vinyl varieties. This allows hospitals, healthcare facilities, dental practices, and other organizations that require surgical gloves to stockpile PPE, improving their cost-effectiveness.
Distinguishing Factors of Surgical Gloves
Surgical gloves are regulated by the FDA as Class I medical devices. They require a 510(k) premarket notification and must meet specific criteria to ensure the safety of the wearer and patients. Distinguishing factors of nitrile surgical gloves include:
Powdered gloves are commonly used in food and industrial settings as the powder make them easier to put on. However, surgical gloves must be powder-free as the powder is linked to avoidable health issues, including airway inflammation.
Nitrile surgical gloves can be chlorinated to help with the donning and doffing in medical emergencies.
Surgical nitrile gloves must be fitted carefully to the wearer, allowing for maximum tactile dexterity.
Nitrile gloves come in a range of colors. Although the color doesn’t determine the efficacy of a glove, hospitals may color code PPE to indicate its intended use. For example, medical facilities may use blue nitrile gloves for surgeries and orange gloves for non-invasive procedures.
Nitrile surgical gloves are typically available in thickness levels between 4 and 8 mm. The thicker the glove, the more tear, and puncture-resistant it is. Thinner gloves provide more flexibility and dexterity. The level of thickness comes down to the preferences of the surgical team.
In some cases, surgeons may double glove, using thin gloves in two different colors. This allows them to recognize perforations and tears quickly.
Improve Safety With Quality Nitrile Surgical Gloves
While vinyl and latex gloves are useful in certain medical scenarios, nitrile is one of the top materials for surgical procedures and high-risk situations. Browse our catalog and stock up on your supply of surgical gloves. We are regulated by the FDA, ensuring our products meet high safety standards.