“Why would anyone wear powder free latex gloves?”
Latex Glove Powder
This is a reasonable question.
Anyone who has ever put on a pair of properly-fitted latex gloves understands why the slippery powder is such a good idea.
So why go without the powder?
After all, if latex allergy was an issue, you wouldn't be wearing latex gloves in the first place, right?
Well, latex protein allergies are
definitely the reason why powder-free latex gloves have become so popular.
When powdered gloves are pulled from their dispensing box or snapped on and off a users hands, there is a small wisp of powder molecules dispersed into the air.
These tiny particles of powder will have absorbed some of the latex proteins from the glove material.
The most commonly employed glove powder is cornstarch. Only about 1/8 of a teaspoon of cornstarch is used per pair of gloves but this is enough to make potentially harmful latex proteins airborne, particles that were not completely removed from the gloves’ surface during the manufacturing process.
Inhaled, this can be an irritant that develops over time into serious respiratory allergies for both patients and those who wear powdered latex gloves.
There is also evidence that the cornstarch dust picks up bacteria while in flight flight, subsequently spreading infection.
Studies indicate that cornstarch impedes wound healing since it is a foreign body, contributing to infection, scarring and adhesion.
Cornstarch powder is primarily used to facilitate the donning of latex gloves.
gloves use the highest quality of cornstarch that is available: 100% pure, edible, USP Cornstarch, which minimizes the negative effects of the powder.)
This powder is also coated on the manufacturing forms that are used for latex dipped products such as gloves because it allows for the product to be easily removed from the hand-shaped dipping form once it is dried.
Today in the U.S., because of awareness of these complications, over 90% of exam gloves and 60% of surgical gloves used in hospitals are powder free.
Powder-free gloves are manufactured using a chlorination process that makes for a less tacky glove surface to expedite donning.
Chlorination processing requires more extensive washing during manufacturing and consequently tends to produce a glove with significantly fewer free latex proteins and other residual chemicals, which is helpful in reducing allergic reactions.
Because the manufacturing process is more complex for powder free latex gloves, the additional cost is reflected in their sale price.
In the long run, however, the health advantages of powder free gloves are inarguable.