Finger cots are small, tube-like sheathes of material that are designed to securely cover the lower portion of fingers. Typically, they cover the first knuckle and end between the first and second knuckles. They can be made of a variety of materials, and are useful in medicine, industry, and in a variety of other situations and applications.
A typical finger cot is made out of latex or vinyl. Most varieties are designed to fit snugly and securely over a finger, and are held in place by a thicker band of material that is located at the base of the finger cot. Some sturdier versions for non-medical applications are made of heavy-weight rubber and are designed to be used over and over.
In medical practice, finger cots are most often used to prevent infection. Although they do not offer the same degree of protection as full-sized medical gloves, they are more than adequate for situations in which only minimal patient contact is expected. A doctor might, for instance, use one to apply a topical antiseptic or other drug without direct physical contact with a patient.
These protective devices can also be used to shield a wounded finger. It can be difficult to keep wounds on fingers clean, as hands come into contact with a wide variety of surfaces during the course of a normal day. Bandages and other wound dressings do not adhere particularly well to fingers, either, because the constant motion tends to pull them free. Finger cots are sometimes used to secure bandages, or simply to protect a wound on a finger from the rigors of daily life.
This sort of finger protection is useful in other fields in addition to medicine. Anyone who comes into contact with delicate electronic equipment should be concerned about exposing that equipment to contamination from human skin and oils. Static electricity can also build up on human hands, and can pose a danger to sensitive electronic equipment. Specialized finger cots are manufactured for use with electronic devices. They are designed to be both durable and resistant to the buildup of static electricity.
Office workers frequently make use of another variety of finger cots. Prolonged handling of paper can rapidly dry out and damage skin. Many office workers and cash handlers opt to use one or more finger cots to aid in sorting through and handling paper. These durable rubber sheathes protect fingertips from wear and from paper cuts, and their rubber surface makes it easier to grasp and move paper.