Frequently Asked Questions on Medical & Surgical Gloves


What are Latex Gloves?
Latex gloves are made from natural rubber latex (NRL) which is a renewable resource. Latex gloves are also more environmentally friendly than synthetic gloves as they are easily biodegradable. In terms of protection latex exam gloves offer users the best barrier protection in areas of potential risk associated with blood-borne pathogens and other substances or biohazards.

The physical properties of the latex also provide excellent flexibility with high degree of sensitivity. Latex outperforms other glove materials in terms of elasticity and tensile strength. These gloves will generally provide the best comfort and feel of all disposable gloves. A small number of people be sensitive to latex and for these people we recommend nitrile or vinyl gloves.
What are Nitrile Gloves?
Nitrile gloves are made by combining acrylonitrile and butadiene, to create a synthetic rubber called nitrile. This synthetic rubber is 100% latex-free and protein-free.

For people who are sensitive to latex gloves we recommend nitrile gloves as an alternative. Nitrile gloves provide an excellent feel, fit, and comfort. Keep in mind that while they are highly elastic their elasticity is less superior when compared to latex gloves.

Nitrile gloves possess high abrasion and puncture resistance and also good resistance to oil, and a wide range of chemicals. This is why many industrial users prefer nitrile gloves. Examination grade nitrile gloves also offer very good barrier protection from blood-borne pathogens and other biohazards.
What are Vinyl Gloves?
Vinyl gloves are made from poly vinyl chloride also known as PVC. They are an economical alternative for users who are sensitive to latex gloves. Vinyl gloves have a good resistance to oil and anti-static properties which make them suitable for cleanroom and critical environment applications. While form-fitting they are generally less flexible than nitrile or latex exam gloves.

Vinyl exam gloves are best suited for short-term procedures and/or minimal risk applications. Vinyl exam gloves generally offer a lower degree of barrier protection than nitrile or latex exam gloves. These gloves are commonly found in daycare centers, beauty salons, food service, and light industrial/cleaning applications. Examination grade nitrile gloves are also used in many hospitals for routine examinations.
What are Medical Grade Gloves?
- All medical grade gloves have FDA oversight and approval.
- Medical grade gloves are mandatory for anyone coming in contact with blood borne pathogens (blood, urine, saliva, etc.).
- If the box does not say “EXAM”, it is not medical grade
What are Industrial Grade Gloves?
• A term used to distinguish disposable gloves used for industrial or non-medical purposes.
• Industrial grade gloves are popular in industrial and food service markets were there are no blood borne pathogen issues.
I see medical exam gloves have an “AQL” sign, what is it and what does it mean?
Medical gloves are rated by their quality to certain standards. Those standards are set by the FDA. AQL stands for Accepted Quality Level and more specifically it is the pinhole rate in medical examination gloves. The FDA rates medical examination gloves under AQL 2.5, industrial examination gloves are rated above 2.5 AQL.
What does tensile strength for medical gloves mean?
Tensile strength for medical gloves shows the amount of force or pull the medical glove can take before breaking/ripping. 
Are there different types of gloves?
Yes, there are. The type of glove used should be based upon the type of procedure to be performed (e.g., surgical vs. nonsurgical, housekeeping procedures). Medical-grade nonsterile examination gloves and sterile surgical gloves are medical devices regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

General-purpose utility gloves are not regulated by the FDA because they are not promoted for medical use. Sterile surgical gloves must meet standards for sterility assurance established by the FDA and are less likely than nonsterile examination gloves to harbor pathogens that may contaminate an operative wound.
What's the best way to take off gloves?
Non-sterile gloves can be piled off and thrown in the trash, while sterile gloves must be removed from the wrist, turned inside and carefully removed.
Can you use hand lotion under latex gloves?
It is recommended to use hand lotion in between or after glove use only. If you are to use hand cream or lotion under latex exam gloves, please choose one that is water-based and not petroleum.
Why do some gloves produce brown stains when you put them on?
This is usually caused by the chemical reaction between your skin and the gloves. Before putting on gloves, your hands might come in contact with copper, iron or metal material, such as coins, or you may have heavy acidic perspiration in your hands. This can usually cause brown stains when wearing gloves. These brown stains do not affect the barrier properties of gloves.
How can you tell if a glove has degraded and should not be used?
A glove may have degraded when it turns hard or brittle and loses its elasticity, or turns too soft and does not return into shape after being stretched. Change of color in the glove should also be a warning sign. Do not use gloves that show signs of degradation. 
What is a latex allergy?
A latex allergy, also known as a type I response, is a reaction to residual proteins found in natural rubber latex. While there are more than 250 different types of latex proteins, approximately 20% are allergenic. The reaction is immediate, typically occurring 5 - 30 minutes after initial contact. The symptoms are commonly:
- Swelling and redness, local to the site of exposure
- Non-specific symptoms such as itching and burning

The symptoms can spread to areas remote to the site of contact with the glove, and can be accompanied by:
- Conjunctivitis
- Rhinitis
- Bronchial obstruction

We offer a range of latex free gloves suitable for people suffering from a latex allergy.
How can you tell if a surgical glove or an examination glove has latex in it?
Mostly all natural rubber latex products feature a warning on the box .
Does glove powder cause latex allergy?
Glove powder, used in the manufacturing process as a mold releasing agent and a donning lubricant, is also believed to be one possible cause of sensitization. However, it is important to understand that glove powder or cornstarch powder itself is not known to be an allergen.

It is during the manufacturing process whereby the glove powder can absorb some soluble protein, and via aerosolization, these powder particles become airborne. Inhalation or direct contact with these powder particles is alleged to bring about allergic reactions. Therefore, it is important to use only gloves with low protein and low powder content.

It is equally important to note that NOT all powder free gloves will have a low protein level. There are powder free gloves that contain a high level of latex protein. Therefore, the association of glove powder and soluble protein must be clarified, and choose only low protein powder free gloves should be used.
Are powder free gloves completely powder free?
Due to the different manufacturing processes for powder free gloves, they are not 100% completely powder free. The definition of powder according to the ASTM is anything that does not pass through a 2.7 micrometer glass microfiber filter by using suction filtration. These may include cornstarch, calcium carbonate aggregates, latex particles, synthetic debris, packaging fibers, non-soluble lubricants, dust, etc.
Is there a limit on protein levels on latex exam gloves?
The FDA and ASTM have established the lowest allowable water-soluble protein claim for any exam gloves to be 50 ug/gm of glove. This protein claim can be found on the glove dispensing box.
How are synthetic vinyl gloves compared to latex gloves?
Vinyl (PVC) is one of the synthetic materials used in the manufacturing of exam gloves. However, research has shown that vinyl gloves are not as strong as latex gloves and they can be punctured more easily. They fit loosely to the hands due to their limited ability to stretch, and they are not as good as latex gloves in barrier protection.

Latex gloves, with their excellent durability, fit better and more comfortably on the hands and stretch with more elasticity. They are stronger and provide superior barrier protection. Overall, latex gloves outperform vinyl gloves in both function and protection.

However individuals, who are allergic to latex protein (Immediate Type I), should avoid in contact with all latex products, and wear only non-latex synthetic gloves. There are also other alternatives of non-latex gloves besides vinyl gloves.

Switching to vinyl gloves does not eliminate the risk of irritant contact dermatitis or chemical hypersensitivity (Type IV) reaction, because these are caused by the residual chemicals used in the manufacturing of both vinyl and latex gloves, rather than latex protein.
Are vinyl gloves better than latex or nitrile in terms of protection?
Research has shown that vinyl gloves are not as strong as latex or nitrile gloves in terms of there puncture resistance. They fit loosely to the hands due to their limited ability to stretch. They are mostly used for non medical purposes.
What type of protective gloves costs the least: Latex, Vinyl, or Nitrile?
Generally speaking, vinyl gloves will usually cost a little less than latex and nitrile gloves.
What is the difference between powdered latex gloves and non-powdered?
Powdered latex gloves have cornstarch added to them to help the user who is donning them (putting them on) to slide their hands in easier and faster.
What should I look for in a latex glove?
Look for comfortable, good barrier protection, tactile sensitivity. Individuals diagnosed with latex allergies should not use natural rubber latex gloves. If powder is inappropriate in an area, select powder-free gloves.
Are nitrile work gloves made with any latex or latex proteins?
Nitrile work gloves are not made with latex so they contain no latex proteins. Nitrile is more resistant to a variety of harsh chemicals and provides superior cut and abrasion resistance. Nitrile gloves are up to three times more puncture resistant than natural rubber.
Why do some nitrile gloves contain aloe?
Some nitrile gloves contain aloe so it's easier to put them on. When donning any type of non-powdered glove, its best to use some type of innocuous (harmless) powdered lubricant or cream.