Skin is a major hub of micro-organisms and a primary source for contamination in the medical sphere. However, skin cannot be sterilized, so sterile gloves are used to control possible contagion.

Sterile gloves, also termed as surgical gloves, are considered sterile because they meet the standard assurance level of sterilization according to FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Sterile gloves are free from micro-organisms and are primarily used for surgical purposes where the risk of cross-contamination is high. Sterile gloves are more expensive than non-sterile gloves because they have higher AQL (Acceptable Quality Level) standards of pinhole and stringent packaging regulations.

Types of Sterile Gloves:

Sterile gloves are made of different materials based on their area of application;

  • Latex Sterile Gloves

These provide medium-range barrier protection and is preferred by surgeons. These gloves have high stability, flexibility, and tactual sensitivity. They provide good fitting but is not recommended to those with latex allergies.

  • Vinyl Sterile Gloves

These gloves are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and provide a standard barrier shield. Though soft and comfortable, these have less longevity and tactual sensitivity. These gloves are completely latex-free.

  • Nitrile Sterile Gloves

Nitrile gloves are made of synthetic rubber and are of superior quality. These are free from protein and latex; they have high sensitivity levels and longevity for being chemical and puncture-resistant.

How are Surgical gloves sterilized?

Surgical gloves are sterilized in an autoclave (a device that uses vapor to sterilize medical equipment and other objects). Surgical gloves are placed singly in a calico container and then in an autoclave at a temperature of 240 F, a pressure of 10 lb. for 30minutes to ensure efficient sterilization and proper retainment of vivacity. After sterilization, each of the gloves is tested by pulling, stretching and inflating.

Why do we use sterile gloves?

Sterile gloves are used for two main reasons:

  • When there is a chance of cross-contamination when handling blood or certain body fluids.
  • When there is a chance of microbe circulation to the environment or from health care workers to patients and vice versa; also, from patient to patient.

Sterile gloves are an important component of safety used across a wide range of professional industries. It is vital to understand the right process of donning and doffing sterile gloves.

Donning of gloves:

Donning is the practice of putting on gloves. Unlike Non-Sterile gloves, Sterile gloves are marketed in individual packages. 

  • Unwrap the single glove from the packaging and inspect it carefully for any ruptures or pinholes.
  • If the gloves are designed bimanual, they can be worn on either hand. If not, align each of the gloves according to your hand before donning.
  • Insert the five fingers into the loops and pull the glove up until the wrist.
  • The glove should fit the fingers and the palm snugly.

Doffing of gloves:

Doffing is the practice of removing gloves to ensure safety –

  • Grab the edge of the glove around the wrist of one of the hands using the other gloved hand.
  • Peel off the glove away from the hand turning it inside out.
  • When one is out, slide in two fingers of the ungloved hand into the remaining glove’s wrist edge, be careful of not touching the outside of the glove.
  • Peel of the remaining part of the gloves again inside out without touching the exterior.
  • DISCARD. When should you change gloves? Sterile gloves are discarded for the following possible –
  • When the gloves are severely contaminated
  • Visible glove ruptures like tears and punctures.
  • Immediately after managing chemotherapy medicine.
  • Coming in direct contact with a patient.
  • Immediately after a medical procedure.

Frequently Asked Questions about Sterile gloves

1. Can germs get through gloves?

Yes, Remember to clean your hands before wearing gloves. Although sterile gloves reduce the chances of germ transmission to the hands, germs can get through latex gloves.

2. Are Sterile gloves PPE?

Yes, Sterile gloves are PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and much more. They protect us from minor issues like cuts and scratches and major chemical contaminations.

3. Do textured sterile gloves provide a better grip?

No, Texture has nothing to do with grip. The surface tack of the gloves and the grip is maintained by chlorination or depends on the characteristics of the coating.

4. Do Sterile gloves remain safe throughout use?

No, Gloves degrade through continuous use. Studies show, that after using a pair for 12 minutes in a clinical procedure, both latex and vinyl show an increased percentage of degradation. The most common degraded area is the fork between the forefinger and thumb.

5. Do Nitrile gloves come in blue hues for a reason?

Yes, Nitrile gloves are manufactured blue or purple to differentiate them from the latex ones. The reason being several patients and medical staff suffer from latex allergies.

6. Do you wash hands after donning gloves?

Yes, Health care personnel wearing gloves does not guarantee germ-free hands. It has been observed that health care workers wearing gloves are less likely to clean their hands before performing medical procedures. This is concerning and proves to be harmful as germs can travel through latex gloves.

Hand hygiene is the most important objective of a medical professional. It is important to have proper knowledge of when to use sterile gloves and how to use it. May this blog help you through your queries.