The Use of Gloves in Infection Control
At its core, infection control is really about prevention and understanding how infectious diseases are spread. Stopping the spread of an existing infection is a major part of these measures, but the primary goal is actually to prevent infection from occurring in the first place.
Any set of infection control protocols worth adhering to, no matter where you work or what the current public health situation is, should include the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). The most commonly used type of PPE is disposable gloves, a versatile, cheap, and highly effective solution for halting and preventing the spread of disease. Without them, infections are free to cause havoc. Read on to learn about common ways that infections spread, reasons to wear gloves, and tips for wearing them properly.
How Are Infectious Diseases Spread?
Without the widespread and consistent use of gloves in high-risk areas, diseases can spread far more rapidly. In healthcare environments, the risk is even greater. According to the CDC, the process of infection requires a source, a susceptible person, and transmission.
A source is any living thing or object from which germs live and are passed from. That could be a person, such as a patient, worker, or visitor. A source can also be fixtures like handrails, handles, sinks, or anywhere dust gathers. Medical devices and wet materials are two major sources of infection as well. Generally speaking, anything someone can touch or sneeze on poses some level of risk.
A susceptible person is anyone with a vulnerability to germs. This includes people who:
- are sick
- are unvaccinated
- are immunocompromised
- take certain medications
- have open wounds or incisions
- have certain underlying medical conditions
Put simply, if an infectious agent can find its way into a body with little resistance, that body is susceptible.
With a source and a susceptible person available, transmission occurs in the following ways:
- Physical contact
- Through liquid (coughing or sneezing on surfaces)
- Bloodborne (passed through a wound)
When infections can spread in so many ways (especially in hospitals), the danger of disease and even death is everywhere. That’s why PPE is so important.
What Do Gloves Protect You From?
With infection risk around every corner, healthcare professionals must have PPE. Disposable gloves are the most important piece of gear to equip for examination, surgery, drawing blood, handling bodily fluids, or simply cleaning up. They can protect you from numerous infections, chemical injuries, bloodborne diseases, and more.
When there are punctures on a glove’s surface, however, blood and other sources can go through gloves. Be careful when drawing blood or doing any task that handles needles. You might also consider using nitrile gloves, which are thicker and slightly more resistant to punctures than their counterparts.
Ultimately, the proper use of gloves can prevent infection, which means that simply wearing gloves can protect you from illnesses as common as the flu and as severe as COVID-19 or Hepatitis B and C.
Tips for Wearing Disposable Gloves Properly
As simple as it may seem, there are protocols for wearing disposable gloves since improper use can actually increase the risk of infection in healthcare settings. When wearing disposable gloves, remember the following:
- Do not wear oil-based hand cream.
- If you have a latex allergy, wear nitrile or vinyl gloves instead of latex gloves.
- Know your glove size. Oversized gloves create difficulty while holding objects, while undersized gloves tear more easily.
- Change gloves after every task, or after seeing every new patient in a medical setting.
When removing disposable gloves, be careful. Make sure you do not touch the outside of your gloves with your skin. Grab the outside of one glove with a gloved hand and pull it inside-out over your fingertips till it comes off, then slide a bare finger inside the other glove (without touching the outside) and repeat the process. It helps to stand over a waste basket so they drop directly into the trash.
Lastly, you should always keep a box of disposable gloves in every room, especially where patient care takes place.
Disposable Gloves From Glove America
Now that you know how the use of gloves in infection control can prevent the spread of disease, it’s time to choose which kind to get. You have a few options: latex, nitrile, vinyl, and chloroprene. You can order disposable gloves online from Glove America in bulk to keep your costs down. Browse our selection to keep your home or workplace infection-free!