Volume 1 - Issue 1

Challenges associated with wearing gloves

Jasneet Kaur

Nurse Officer, Department of Emergency Medicine, Electronic City, Bangalore, India

Donning and doffing gloves is a very basic action performed on healthcare premises, and one of the first lessons taught to every healthcare personnel as a fundamental principle of hand hygiene.

In practising infection control, we have to be careful about avoiding stereotypical (consciously and unconsciously) behaviours or actions we may adopt before proceeding with any procedures that may invite or transmit infection, during handling of patients or material.

One common example is donning and doffing gloves.

Among the benefits of wearing gloves, the first and foremost is protection. They protect two lives, the patient's for sure, and also that of the health professional. It is said that "One healthy person can take care of the many sick".

In another context, William Shakespeare said in "Merchant of Venice"- "The quality of mercy is twice blessed, it blesseth him that gives and the him that takes"

Elaborating on the protection gained from wearing medical gloves, they reduce the risk of soiling the healthcare professional's hands with blood and body fluids, and also the risk of dissemination by health workers of micro-organisms from one patient to other.

Another benefit of wearing gloves is that they protect us from direct exposure to certain hazardous drugs like (chemotherapeutic drugs) or some potential contamination from the skin of the individuals with who we come in contact. The list goes on.

Many before me have penned down on the importance of donning, or wearing, gloves. They are an integral part of PPE.

Interestingly every coin has two faces, so the 'pros of donning gloves go with the 'cons as well. It is a good time to create mass awareness about the same because half knowledge is always dangerous.

Let's start with the good old friend in every hospital, the powdered latex gloves!

Latex gloves are flexible, fit well and serve the purpose of protection, but hypersensitivity to natural rubber latex has been increasingly reported, which increased from 2.8% to 17% during the pandemic (astonishing, isn't it?) and this doesn't end here. Incidence of irritant contact dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis and contact urticaria have been reported and are increasing further.

Let us turn to plastic gloves, considered to be hypoallergenic polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Contact dermatitis, in reaction to PVC, has also been reported as a result of allergy to many additives used in these gloves including Carba Mix. Carba Mix contains the following three allergens: Diphenylguanidine, Zinc dibutyldithiocarbamate, and Zinc diethyldithiocarbamate. These chemicals are used as fungicides and pesticides, and also in the manufacture of many rubber products.

Moving on, some types of powder used in gloves have been associated with an increased risk of skin roughness due to changing pH inside the gloves.

Allergic sensitization may hinder an employee's ability to perform tasks necessary at the employment setting.

Many such symptoms are not reported or go unnoticed.

But they are avoidable. As itÒ€ℒs quoted "where there is a will there is a way!".

One way is opting for nitrile gloves or powder-free gloves. Nitrile gloves are allergy-safe gloves. Nitrile gloves also offer greater protection. These gloves are durable and resistant to hazardous chemicals, acids and oils and they are nearly 3x as puncture resistant as latex materials.

A small, and simple, but the effective change of practice, or replacement, can do wonders.

Health education about correct hand hygiene (hand washing only with soap and water) after doffing gloves, also helps in the reduction of challenges associated with wearing gloves.

And we never know, this small article may bring a great change!

Ms. Jasneet Kaur

Ms. Jasneet Kaur

Nurse Officer


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