Powder vs. Powder-free Gloves – What’s the Difference?

Medical technicians typically wear protective gloves made of latex, nitrile rubber, vinyl, or neoprene while examining patients and performing operations. Gloves guard against infection and prevent direct contact with bodily fluids and germs. They are either powdered or powder-free, and each type of glove has its own unique characteristics and benefits.

Powder gloves

Powder gloves are usually slightly easier to put on and remove in comparison to powder-free gloves. Many think that gloves are safer when cornstarch powder is added as it decreases the risk of the gloves tearing. Oftentimes, physicians must put on gloves in a moment’s notice, so adding powder helps them get to work right away. Many also favor the powder version as they don’t stick to the hand or themselves as often as the powder-free variety.

When gloves are powdered, they bind to the glove’s latex proteins. When worn for an extended period of time, the powder can actually seep into the skin and cause an allergic reaction. In rare instances, those who don powder gloves with wet hands sometimes experience anaphylactic shock or dermatitis.

Powder-free gloves

Powder-free gloves typically don’t slide on and off as easily as powder gloves. Those with latex allergies or concerns about the side effects of powder gloves typically opt for a powder-free version of nitrile gloves. Nitrile is a synthetic rubber that is incredibly resistant to chemicals and other harmful substances. Powder-free nitrile gloves are also much more resistant to punctures than regular rubber gloves.

Powder gloves can slow the healing process if the cornstarch powder seeps into tissues during surgeries and other situations where tissues are exposed. This is a large part of the reason why powder-free gloves are being worn more often during sensitive medical procedures.