For years, latex gloves were preferred in many industries that required gloves and PPE. However, since the introduction of nitrile gloves, we have seen a shift in direction. What is the cause of this large shift in glove choice?
The most significant reason that individuals, companies, or even industries make the switch from latex to nitrile is the presence of latex allergies. Latex is natural rubber with proteins that are inherent in causing the immune system to produce mild to severe allergic reactions in some individuals.
Latex allergies, known as Type I hypersensitivity, occurs immediately on contact and commonly produces mild symptoms including skin irritation, rash, hives, swelling, discomfort, and itchiness. However, it can range to more severe symptoms where people who suffer from latex allergies could fall into anaphylactic shock and lead to death.
Since latex allergies can become so aggravating and serious, especially for those undiagnosed, it is often best to avoid latex altogether. This holds particularly true in the medical industry for doctors and nurses who are required to wear gloves when assisting patients and come into contact with hundreds if not thousands of individuals who may be susceptible.
Resistance to Chemicals and Punctures
Due to its natural rubber properties, latex tends to be unstable around particular chemicals like solvents. This means that certain kinds of chemicals can weaken or even erode the surface of the glove, preventing it from protecting your hands. Industries involved in the use of harsh chemicals may find latex gloves not being suitable.
Latex is also prone to punctures which may be difficult to spot in a visual inspection. These tiny incisions may then allow dangerous chemicals or biohazardous material, such as blood, to leak onto the hands and cause harm or danger to the wearer.
Comfort and Dexterity
Latex gloves are highly regarded for fitting close to the skin and providing an excellent range of motion and dexterity. While they have a great feel on the hand, the above issues make latex gloves a potential problem for many industries.
A Better Alternative: Nitrile
Gloves are the barrier that protects your hands and skin from unwanted substances like chemicals, oils, and biohazardous fluids.
Nitrile gloves do not contain latex proteins
Nitrile gloves are considered hypoallergenic gloves (Tabary et al., 2020) as they do not contain any latex proteins, making them a great alternative for those with a latex allergy. This ensures the wearer and any other patients or clients they might encounter are not exposed to these proteins.
High chemical resistance
Nitrile gloves are significantly more chemical resistant compared to latex gloves. Nitrile’s synthetic nature is engineered to have a very high resistance to chemicals, acids, and oils compared to natural rubber latex gloves. This benefit over latex makes nitrile gloves much more versatile and safer for jobs that deal with harsh chemicals such as those in life science, automotive, and the industrial sector.
Strong puncture resistance
Nitrile gloves are also extremely puncture resistant. Nitrile is an inherently puncture-resistant material and boasts a resistance that is three to five times stronger than disposable latex gloves (Patel et al., 2004). Puncture resistance as well as acting as a general barrier is essential for gloves used in the medical industry as well as the food processing industry.
Form-fitting, comfort and dexterity
Nitrile provides excellent comfort and dexterity that is very comparable to latex and easily conforms to wearers’ hands to provide a great fit.
With all of these benefits, it is easy to see why disposable nitrile gloves have become so popular. They are extremely versatile and can be used in many applications. They are strong and durable helping you to work with confidence. Mun Global has a large selection of examination nitrile gloves that are sure to meet your industry’s needs. Whichever you choose, always ensure you follow the correct techniques to don and doff your gloves, followed by proper hand hygiene before and after glove use.
- Patel, H., Fleming, G. and Burke, F., 2004. Puncture resistance and stiffness of nitrile and latex dental examination gloves. British Dental Journal, 196(11), pp.695-700.
- Tabary, M., Araghi, F., Nasiri, S. and Dadkhahfar, S., 2020. Dealing with skin reactions to gloves during the COVID-19 pandemic. Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, pp.1-2.