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Published on July 30, 2002

Medical Glove Materials and Their Uses

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Date Published July 30, 2002

This paper is to discuss commercially available materials, current technology, and practiced art for the manufacturing of examination and surgical gloves. The discussion covers natural rubber latex and synthetic materials. Natural rubber latex (NRL) gloves continue to hold a dominant share in the glove market. However, this share is diminishing due to the growing concern of latex allergy. Low cost, low protein allergen, and powder free are the key added features for the NRL gloves. Meanwhile, synthetic gloves are enjoying a double-digit growth rate in recent years. Neoprene is a preferred material for synthetic surgical gloves. Polyisoprene is emerging, and it has the closest tactile sensitivity, flexibility, and durability to natural rubber. Nitrile, polyruethane, and thermoplastic rubbers hold their respective areas. For examination gloves, vinyl gloves are more flexible and stronger, but have gained no more share in the market. Nitrile gloves are accepted at a much faster pace. Polyurethane gloves without accelerators and plasticizers have found a niche market. 
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