The best glove to replace latex gloves
As one of the most commonly used items in the medical industry, disposable latex gloves are found everywhere in doctors' operating rooms and wards around the world. However, for thousands of medical professionals and patients, these latex gloves are the cause of serious discomfort and, in the worst cases, life-threatening allergic reactions. Since their widespread adoption in the 1960s, people have been searching for the best alternatives to latex gloves
, and now in 2019, we are fortunate to have many excellent alternatives.
But how did latex become so popular? Why are so many people allergic to it? Well, the answer to that question lies in its origins as a naturally occurring product in the rubber tree. The most common species of rubber tree, the Brazilian rubber tree (Hevea Brasiliensis), originated in the Amazon rainforest, where rubber was first planted by Europeans. The British were responsible for transporting the tree seeds to Southeast Asia, where they are grown in abundance today. Its durability, elasticity and malleability ensured that natural latex was widely used in the 18th century, but it was not until 1964 that it was first used in the manufacture of disposable medical gloves
Unfortunately, as a naturally occurring product, latex rubber contains sensitive proteins that cause some people to have allergic reactions when exposed to it. These allergic reactions range from mild skin irritation to severe anaphylaxis, which in extreme cases can lead to death. As a result, the need for a safe alternative to disposable latex gloves has become extremely urgent, and there are now many excellent options on the market.
Low Protein Latex Gloves
For those with very mild allergic reactions to natural latex, some manufacturers are now producing powder-free, low-protein latex gloves as an alternative to traditional latex gloves. The advantage of these gloves is that they have the same durability, elasticity and flexibility as regular latex gloves, and they are also more environmentally friendly than disposable gloves made from synthetic materials, which in many cases are not biodegradable. However, since the potential for allergic reactions still exists, while protein-reduced natural latex gloves can greatly reduce allergic reactions, the best alternative at this time is completely latex-free.
Polyvinyl chloride, commonly known as PVC, is a plastic rather than a rubber, and as such it is completely synthetic - essentially, the natural protein is completely removed. While this means no latex allergies, other chemicals are used in the manufacturing process, so it's best to check PVC gloves before using them. As an alternative to latex gloves, they are cheap, strong (because they are made of thick polymers) and offer good protection when in contact with chemicals and other hazardous liquids. However, they are far less biodegradable than latex gloves and have a greater environmental impact when most hospitals need to use them in large quantities.
Without a doubt, nitrile gloves are the best alternative to latex gloves today and have become a very popular choice in many hospitals and operating rooms. Made from a variety of copolymers, this synthetic rubber is indistinguishable from PVC and is an extremely tough and durable material comparable to natural latex. Nitrile gloves offer good protective qualities, especially when handling oil or petroleum products, and have even proven to have a lower failure rate than natural latex rubber gloves.
You can tell nitrile gloves apart in the ward because they are almost always blue or black, which makes it easier to spot perforations or tears. Less than 1% of allergic reactions occur after using nitrile gloves. This level of reliability makes them the most widely used latex alternative in the medical industry.
The only drawback to current nitrile gloves is the environmental impact of frequent use. Like PVC, synthetic nitrile polymers break down naturally at a very slow rate. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and the first biodegradable nitrile gloves are beginning to enter the market. However, these gloves come with a price tag and most hospitals will not rush to stock up until they become more cost effective.
Until biodegradable nitrile gloves become widely available, the best alternative to latex gloves will remain nitrile gloves. The safety and comfort of medical staff and latex-allergic patients must be prioritized to ensure that the Philippine healthcare system continues to provide quality care. Medshop Philippines stocks a wide variety of nitrile gloves as well as traditional latex gloves to meet the needs of all professionals in the healthcare industry. View our products today and browse our other medical industry supplies on the Medshop website.