As you walk around the grocery store or head to the pharmacy, you may see some people wearing gloves as protection against COVID-19 too. But infectious disease experts warn that wearing gloves may actually do more harm than good for some. The CDC does not recommend non-healthcare workers wear medical gloves. Health experts say wearing gloves may actually do more harm than good.
The CDC recommends:
- Washing your hands often and at least for 20 seconds
- Avoiding close contact with sick people and people outside your home
- Wearing a face covering in public
- Covering coughs and sneezes
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched services
When people put on gloves, they typically assume their gloves are clean, offering them protection against coronavirus. But after initially putting on those medical gloves, people go on to touch other surfaces. This can contaminate the gloves. Those wearing medical gloves can forget about the possible contamination. And touch the outside of their gloves if they do not take them off properly. Wearing gloves can also make them overconfident enough that they do not wash their hands as often as they would have otherwise. The false sense of security may make people more likely to forget preventive measures, such as not touching their eyes, nose, or mouth with possibly contaminated gloves.
Increasing the spread of germs
Although it may seem counterintuitive, gloves can actually increase the spread of germs if they are not changed often enough. For example, we may wear medical gloves to the grocery store, unknowingly coming into contact with the virus while inside. If we do not change gloves, they will transfer the germs when we then goes to the pharmacy. Another customer at the pharmacy then has a higher chance of being contaminated, because germs were brought from the grocery store to the pharmacy via the medical gloves. This transfer of the virus, though accidental, is extremely dangerous.
Hand washing is more efficient
It’s actually safer to do your essential errands without gloves. When medical gloves become contaminated, they must be thrown away. You cannot clean and reuse them. On the other hand, you can always wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after each stop of your trip.
Gloves aren’t foolproof
Wearing medical gloves does not guarantee you are completely protected from germs. There are lots of microscopic holes that the virus can seep into, making contact with your skin. Medical gloves can also be damaged. Fingernails or jewelry can make small tears in the material without you knowing. Moisture, heat, and chemicals can damage certain types of gloves, like vinyl, latex, and nitryl. This is also why it’s so important to wash your hands after wearing gloves.
SO WHO SHOULD USE GLOVES?
With all the downsides, you may be wondering what the point of wearing gloves is. When the right people use medical gloves in the proper way, gloves can help stop the spread of COVID-19. The CDC recommends healthcare workers and caregivers of people who are infected with coronavirus are encouraged to wear medical gloves when cleaning and disinfecting.
They should use gloves when they are:
- Using a cleaning solution that requires it for safety reasons
- Cleaning infected hard, non-porous surfaces
- Washing infected clothes or linens
- Feeding and cleaning up after an infected person
- Washing infected dishes