healthcare employee wearing nitrile gloves and checking samplesHealthcare employee wearing nitrile gloves and checking samples

Gloves for Infection Control

I'm sure you've heard of Infection Control - it's a set of practices and measures that are implemented to prevent the spread of diseases and to keep a safe and healthy environment. Infection Control tends to play a huge role in healthcare businesses especially, places like vet clinics, doctor's offices, hospitals and senior care homes. We're going to get into why Infection Control is necessary, why disposable gloves pay a pivotal role in this, and how to pick the best disposable gloves for the job.

Is Infection Control the same thing as Infection Prevention?

While these two terms are often used interchangeably, they're not quite the same thing. Infection Control are specific measures and rules used to address existing infections and help contain their spread. Infection Prevention on the other hand, is measures taken to reduce the overall risk of infection in general. Disposable gloves are an important part of the PPE used in both cases.

Why is Infection Control Important?

Infection Control is a cornerstone of public healthcare systems because of the key role it plays in maintaining good health and a quality of life in our social society. Here's a list of some of the reasons infection control is crucial:

  1. Protecting Patients: In healthcare settings it's especially important to implement Infection Control measures to protect vulnerable individuals, particularly people with underlying health conditions and auto-immune conditions.
  2. Ensuring Worker Safety: Workers on the frontline are at increased risk for catching infectious diseases, so good control measures can help protect healthcare workers, and workers in other industries that come into contact with the greater public.
  3. Reducing Healthcare costs: Treating infectious diseases can be very expensive and lead to economic burden on our healthcare system, not just financially but also by adding stress to local businesses dealing with worker shortages.
  4. Maintaining Public Health: Ultimately it's not just about your business or healthcare facility, it's about protecting the greater public

The Importance of Disposable Gloves in Infection Control

people wearing PPE and reviewing infection control tasks

Disposable gloves are a key part of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) when it comes to Infection Control plans and protocol. Disposable gloves are an essential barrier between individuals and potentially infectious materials.

Wearing disposable gloves helps prevent cross-contamination. Wearing and changing gloves correctly prevents the spread of infectious agents from one surface to another and are crucial when dealing with different patients, or moving from one task to another.

How to Choose Gloves for Infection Control

Selecting the correct gloves for your infection control tasks is incredibly important for maintaining a safe and hygienic environment, especially in healthcare settings. With so many options available, it can be hard to pick. To help you make your decision we're going to review glove grades, glove materials and how to choose the correct size. 

Glove Grade

When it comes to glove grades you'll typically hear three terms thrown around: food grade, industrial grade, and exam grade. While food grade and industrial grade gloves are great choices for lots of tasks, when it comes to infection control we highly recommend you select a disposable glove that is exam grade. Exam grade gloves are often referred to as medical grade gloves. This is because they have gone through more thorough testing for protection against potentially infectious bacteria and microorganisms. Learn more about the testing of medical exam gloves here

Glove Materials

Latex gloves have been a staple material in many infection control measures due to their comfort, stretch, durability and chemical resistance. Exam grade latex gloves offer reliable protection against a wide range of pathogens which makes them a popular choice for healthcare facilities. Because latex gloves provide a snug fit they make a great option for tasks that require the precision of a good grip and tactile sensitivity. It's important to keep in mind that latex is a common allergy, so if latex is your go-to make sure you also have vinyl or nitrile on hand for staff with possible allergies, or for dealing with patients that are sensitive to latex. 

Vinyl gloves are another great choice for many infection control tasks. Vinyl is an allergy-friendly alternative to latex when dealing with patients who are sensitive to latex. While vinyl gloves aren't as stretchy as latex or nitrile they make an economical choice for many medium-duty tasks. Vinyl come in especially handy for tasks where you need to change gloves frequently. 

Nitrile gloves are the most popular material for most infection control tasks. This is because they provide the same stretch and comfort as latex without the increased risk of allergic reactions. Nitrile gloves are also resistant to many chemicals so they're great not just for dealing with patients but also sanitizing or cleaning with harsh chemicals. Available in a large variety of colors they can also be used for color coding procedures for an added layer of safety. 

Chemical Resistance

Since Infection Control procedures typically include cleaning and sanitation it's important to check which chemicals you're using in advance, and ensure that the glove material you're using can properly hold up. To make sure you and your staff are protected from hazardous materials you can check our chemical resistance chart that compares common chemicals and how they hold up against vinyl, latex and nitrile.

Choosing the correct size

Wearing the correct size of disposable gloves is incredibly important when engaging in infection control tasks, since it directly impacts the effectiveness of barrier protection and overall safety. Gloves that are too large may slip off during use, potentially contaminating both the wearer and the surrounding environment. Gloves that are too tight can cause discomfort, restrict movement, and may even tear, leaving the skin vulnerable to contact with infectious agents. Properly sized gloves enhance tactile sensitivity and dexterity, allowing healthcare professionals to perform tasks with precision, such as administering medications or conducting medical examinations. Ensuring the correct fit not only safeguards the wearer but also contributes significantly to maintaining hygiene standards, preventing cross-contamination, and upholding the overall efficacy of infection control measures in healthcare and various industries.

To make sure you select the correct size, we recommend you measure the palm of your hand at its widest point, and compare it to our glove sizing chart. We also offer sample orders, so you can try a variety of sizes and gloves before making a bulk purchase. Ultimately, choosing the correct glove size is an important stem to ensure both the wearer's safety and the effectiveness of the gloves in fulfilling their protective role.

Best Glove Practices for Infection Control

Wearing gloves effectively during infection control involves adhering to several best practices to ensure both the wearer's safety and the prevention of the spread of infectious agents. Here are some key recommendations:

  • Wash Your Hands: It's important to wash hands prior to putting on gloves, and in between glove changes.
  • Inspect Gloves: Before putting on a new pair of gloves check for any rips,
    Person wearing blue nitrile gloves and disposing of hazardous waste
    tears or punctures.
  • Avoid Touching Surfaces: Once the gloves are on avoid touching unnecessary surfaces to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Glove Changes: Change gloves between every task - when in doubt swap them out.
  • Proper Removal: Carefully remove gloves without touching the outer surface with your bare hands.
  • Avoid Reuse: Disposable gloves are disposable for a reason - once removed they should not be put on and used again.
  • Proper Disposal: Immediately dispose of used gloves in the appropriate trash bin - paying particular attention to put it in the hazardous waste bin if needed.

Additional Resources

Taking infection control seriously is key to safeguarding public health, preventing the spread of diseases, and maintaining a safe environment. Diligent infection control practices are essential in healthcare settings, workplaces, and community spaces to protect both individuals and communities from the transmission of infectious agents. We've helped you learn how to pick your disposable gloves for infection control, but if you're looking for more information on Infection control best practices we highly recommend checking resources from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and the WHO (World Health Organization).

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