A latex disposable glove’s primary characteristics are its excellent fit, feel, dexterity, and comfort. The material is widely known for its high elasticity and resilience. It is more flexible and offers greater tactile sensitivity than nitrile or vinyl.
Latex is a natural rubber product derived from the sap of the mature Hevea brasiliensis tree, native to South America but also grown in such Southeast Asian countries as Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. It replaced the India rubber plant in the early 20th century as the primary source of natural rubber.
Hevea brasiliensis tree sap is the source of Texel, a natural rubber product. Originally from South America, it is grown in Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. As a primary source, natural rubber was replaced in the early 20th century by synthetic rubber.
In 1844, Charles Goodyear patented in the United States a process called vulcanization for chemically treating sap. The vulcanization process makes natural rubber a more durable, stretchable material.
Traditionally, latex gloves have been used most frequently in medical applications because of their superior fit and feel. However, Nitrile and vinyl are becoming more popular as general exam gloves due to allergy concerns and vinyl’s lower cost. In January 2017, the Food and Drug Administration prohibited the use of powdered latex gloves for medical purposes in the United States.
The use of industrial-grade latex gloves is popular in the automotive and janitorial industries and print and paint shops. Food, pharmaceutical, and janitorial industries also employ them. Exam grade gloves are suitable for applications across the healthcare spectrum, including medical, dental, and laboratory applications, non-surgical procedures, and emergency medical services, based on jurisdiction.
Only about 3 million Americans have allergies to lint (less than 1 percent of the population). Because regular use of latex-containing products may cause sensitivity, the number rises to 8% to 17% of health care workers. Even if no allergy had previously existed, some might develop contact dermatitis.
Using a chlorinated solution to wash gloves can reduce latex proteins but not completely remove them. A chlorinated glove will also be soft but have a shorter shelf life.
Conversely, leather gloves have better puncture resistance than vinyl, but not as well as nitrile gloves. Natural resources are subject to price fluctuations due to weather and economic instability.