Latex exam gloves are disposable gloves made from latex, a rubber product which can be produced naturally or synthetically. In most facilities, latex gloves are the standard, since they are inexpensive and ideally suited for a variety of medical applications. Awareness of latex allergies has led to the inclusion of non-latex gloves as an alternative in some facilities to address concerns about allergic reactions. Health care suppliers and drugstores usually stock latex exam gloves for professionals and average consumers.
Latex can be sourced either naturally or synthetically. In either case, the material provides excellent barrier protection, preventing the transmission of viruses and bacteria between a health care provider and a patient. Latex is also a great material for medical gloves because it is thin and flexible, which means that it will not interfere with freedom of movement. Wearing properly-sized latex gloves almost feels like not wearing any gloves at all, which is very important for many aspects of medical care.
It is possible to find powdered latex exam gloves, which tend to be easier to put on, along with powder-free versions. In some cases, powdered gloves may not be suitable, as the powder can sometimes cause allergic reactions or other problems. Latex exam gloves are also available in a wide range of sizes to accommodate various hand sizes. The gloves are disposed of after each patient, and they may be changed during the course of an exam for safety.
A well-fitted glove is snug without feeling constrictive. The fingers fit smoothly into the glove with no folds or baggy areas, and the glove will not readily slide off. If a glove is too loose, contaminants can enter the glove, which can be very dangerous, and if a glove is too tight, it may split under the stress, exposing the wearer to health hazards.
Latex exam gloves can be found in exam rooms at hospitals and clinics, and they are also stocked in first aid kits, ambulances, and in other areas where people could potentially be exposed to bodily fluids. Most facilities keep several sizes on hand to ensure that health care providers have access to the right size, and the gloves or cases may be color-coded to make it easy to determine size. If latex-free gloves are also stocked, they are usually colored differently and often kept in a separate area to avoid cross-contamination or accidents in which the wrong gloves are worn by mistake.