Gloves are called personal protective equipment (PPE). Other types of PPE are gowns, masks, and shoe and head covers.
Gloves create a barrier between germs and your hands. Wearing gloves in the hospital helps prevent the spread of germs.
Why Wear Gloves
Wearing gloves helps protect both patients and health care workers from infection.
When to Wear Gloves
Gloves help keep your hands clean and lessen your chance of getting germs that can make you sick.
Wear gloves every time you touch blood, bodily fluids, bodily tissues, mucous membranes, or broken skin. You should wear gloves for this sort of contact, even if a patient seems healthy and has no signs of any germs.
Choose the Right Gloves
Containers of disposable gloves should be available in any room or area where patient care takes place.
Gloves come in different sizes, so make sure you choose the right size for a good fit.
- If the gloves are too big, it is hard to hold objects and easier for germs to get inside your gloves.
- Gloves that are too small are more likely to rip.
Some cleaning and care procedures require sterile or surgical gloves. Sterile means "free from germs." These gloves come in numbered sizes (5.5 to 9). Know your size ahead of time.
If you will be handling chemicals, check the material safety data sheet to see what kind of gloves you will need.
DO NOT use oil-based hand creams or lotions unless they are approved for use with latex gloves.
If you have a latex allergy, use non-latex gloves and avoid contact with other products that contain latex.
When you take gloves off, make sure the outsides of the gloves do not touch your bare hands. Follow these steps:
- Grab the top of your right glove with your left hand.
- Pull toward your fingertips. The glove will turn inside out.
- Hold onto the empty glove with your left hand.
- Put 2 right-hand fingers in the top of your left glove.
- Pull toward your fingertips until you have pulled the glove inside out and off your hand. The right glove will be inside the left glove now.
- Throw the gloves away in an approved waste container.
Always use new gloves for each patient. Wash your hands between patients to avoid passing germs.
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) website. Personal protective equipment. www.cdc.gov/niosh/ppe. Updated February 2, 2018. Accessed April 9, 2018.
Edmond MB, Wenzel RP. Infection prevention in the health care setting. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, Updated Edition. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 300.
Review Date 2/18/2018
Updated by: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.