The advantages of nitrile gloves over latex and vinyl gloves

As a manufacturer of vital PPE such as surgical or FFP masks made in Germany, we are now including the nitrile glove as another part of the medical PPE in our range. In this context, we would like to provide precise information about the quality features to be considered when deciding for or against such disposable gloves. In addition, it is important to us to explain the differences between different types of gloves in addition to the quality features.

What is nitrile?

The chemical building block behind nitrile is called acrylonitrile butadiene rubber. This is also known by the abbreviation "NBR" (an acronym from the English "Nitrile Butadiene Rubber"). At the chemical level, we are talking about cross-linked polymer molecules made of acrylonitrile and 1,3-butadiene, which then, as an elastomer, belong to the subgroup of plastics.

Nitrile is a synthetic rubber that essentially has the same properties as a plastic. However, as an alternative for allergy sufferers, it is free of latex proteins, has a high resistance to chemicals, oils and fats and also offers protection against solvents, viruses and germs. Furthermore, the nitrile glove adapts perfectly to any hand shape.

Basically, disposable gloves can be categorized into three different types. Due to product-based advantages and disadvantages, the three different types of gloves naturally qualify for differentiated work areas. Without exception, we offer the modern nitrile gloves for safe use. Nevertheless, we see it as our duty to provide information about all three types.

What is the difference between latex gloves, vinyl gloves and nitrile gloves?

  • The latex glove The disposable glove, which was still classic until recently, is now only used in the powder-free version. Since 1997, there has been a legally binding obligation to exchange powdered natural latex products for unpowdered, low-allergen natural latex gloves with an allergen content of less than 30 µg/g glove material or gloves made from another suitable material. While the powdering ensured that the glove could be put on and taken off smoothly and thus adhered less to the wearer's skin for more comfort, it was legally withdrawn from circulation for PPE. Due to the 8th Device Safety Ordinance, medical gloves and finger stalls are part of the PPE and may therefore no longer be used according to the Ordinance on Hazardous Substances (GefStoffV) and the Chemicals Act (ChemG) due to primary and secondary prevention. While the variant with powdering ensures that the glove can be put on and taken off smoothly and therefore sticks less to the wearer's skin, the powdering promotes the absorption of latex proteins. These in turn can cause an allergy or very strong allergic contact reactions in one or the other person. A ban on this variant makes perfect sense for the well-being of carriers and patients and was a very sensible step. More detailed information can be found in the guideline of the AWMF (Working Group of Scientific Medical Societies e.V.): "Requirements for gloves for infection prevention in healthcare".

  • The vinyl glove The base material of this type of glove is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) with the addition of plasticizers, making it malleable and elastic. Of the three types of gloves, this is the most cost-effective variant. The plasticizers make the PVC more stretchable. Since this type of glove can tear easily, this type of glove is primarily suitable for use in (very) low-risk areas. Some of the plasticizers used during production can be dissolved out, which means that they should be used with caution, for example with fatty foods, as contamination of the processed foods is possible.

  • The nitrile glove This modern variant made of synthetic rubber has good elasticity (up to 600%), adapts very well to the shape of the hand, provides the wearer with a good grip and is free of any latex proteins. Without these proteins, allergic reactions from gloves are impossible for both the wearer and the patient. Therefore, there is no asthma, itching, eczema or other side effects that can occur with latex gloves. In addition, there are no plasticizers like in vinyl gloves. Nitrile gloves also offer excellent tear resistance, offer protection against solvents, chemicals, viruses and germs and have a high resistance to fats and oils. Furthermore, there is no longer any accumulation of heat in the glove, which prevents the hands from sweating and makes them more comfortable to wear. Thanks to their elasticity, nitrile gloves also adapt perfectly to the hand of the wearer and ensure that the wearer is comfortable to wear during work, where a high level of tactile sensitivity is important. The glove is produced in two variants: with and without powdering. Without exception, we offer these modern gloves without powdering. Of course, we would like to provide comprehensive and transparent information about both variants.

What are the pros & cons of nitrile gloves?

Nitrile gloves are available with and without powder. The main advantages and disadvantages of powdered nitrile gloves are:

  • Easy to put on even with wet or damp hands

  • Any irritation to the respiratory tract and mucous membranes (if the powder is inhaled)

  • Ban on use in the food industry

  • Residues on clothing from powder

The main advantages and disadvantages of nitrile gloves without powdering inside are:

  • Skin friendliness

  • Suitable for any food

  • Putting on the gloves with powder is a bit easier than without

The nitrile glove is resistant to chemicals, viruses, bacteria, microorganisms and offers good protection against fats and oils.

This makes it versatile, which means that daily use is not just limited to medical PPE, but can also be used across many other industries.

Where are nitrile gloves used?

The following excerpt gives a small cross-section of areas of application and requirements in relation to their quality features:

  • Human medicine (hospitals, doctors in private practice, emergency services), veterinary medicine as well as elderly and nursing
    Above all, compliance with European standard 455 (EN455) must be ensured. This is decisive as to whether a glove can be used in medicine. This standard is of course a basic requirement in our production and is at least met by all our products. More specifically, our nitrile gloves meet the standards EN 455-1 / -2 / -3 / -4 as well as EN 374-1 / -2 / -5 / -5 and EN 420.

  • Food industry and gastronomy
    Unlike both latex & vinyl gloves, the nitrile glove is suitable for an end use where wearers are working with greases and oils. This offers a huge advantage, especially in the food industry. Unfortunately, latex gloves are not suitable for working with oils or fats, as these become brittle and lose their elasticity. Depending on contact, vinyl gloves made of PVC can release plasticizers, which in the worst case can lead to harmful or allergic reactions when eating the processed food.

  • Chemical laboratories and cleaning work
    The nitrile glove can also be found in chemical laboratories and for work that involves everyday contact with chemicals. It is of course very important to us to extensively test our gloves made of high-quality nitrile. Our nitrile gloves are resistant to many chemical splashes and disinfectants/cleaning agents (EN 374-1 / -2 / -5 / -5).

  • Cosmetic, tattoo and hairdressing studio
    The advantage of tear resistance is a big factor for the use in any cosmetic field for the nitrile glove. The high wearing comfort as well as increased protection and accuracy due to the high tactile sensitivity after a long period of work are very advantageous for these industries. A primarily visual branch of industry will probably also be happy about the possibility of color adjustments to the individual corporate identity.

Our nitrile gloves: protection and comfort

It goes without saying that we take the quality control of all our products very seriously. Before, during and after the production of our nitrile gloves, we have precise sequences that ensure accurate products that the end user can enjoy.

Of course, we want to create transparency for users who wear any kind of gloves. Of course, without our precise measuring instruments and systems, users can only carry out an apparent test that reveals any quality. Basically, the following must be observed:

  • Visual Check: Discolored gloves indicate an anomaly & should not be used

  • Damage: A porous glove should not be used

  • Glove tightness test: A damaged product will leak air (or water).

Of course, we are always open to questions about our medical products.