Several conversations and guidance have been provided about personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 outbreak. Many people from different sectors have access to the PPE (such as masks, gloves, gowns, and face shields). But we need to know the difference between when it is safe and risky to use PPE. For instance, the stay-at-home and social distancing orders have proven more effective in restricting the virus's spread amongst the masses - making the need for PPE relatively less in this case. However, they are still recommended in certain situations.
An example of PPE almost never mentioned to the general public is the gloves. Although, they seem like a reasonable precaution for people going out in public to run errands or do something meaningful. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest wearing gloves only in specific circumstances. Written below are some of their recommendations.
When to Wear Gloves
Use gloves whenever you're cleaning and disinfecting or offering care to someone who is sick. For instance:
Whenever you clean and disinfect your home. It's important you:
- Carefully follow the precautions listed on the disinfectant product label, which may include:
- Having incredible ventilation either by switching on a fan or opening a window to get fresh air into the room you’re cleaning or disinfecting.
- Wearing gloves before use (reusable or disposable).
- Even after you've removed the gloves, ensure you wash your hands thoroughly.
When Caring For a Sick Person
If you are providing care to a sick person either at home or in another non-healthcare center setting, make sure you:
- Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting the area or objects where the sick or the infected person has touched and other surfaces and objects that may be regularly touched in the home.
- Wear disposable gloves whenever you're touching or having contact with body fluids (vomit, urine, saliva, and mucus), blood, or stool.
- After using the disposable gloves, dispose of them out in a lined trash can. Don't even try to disinfect or reuse the gloves.
- Thoroughly wash your hands after you have removed the gloves.
When Gloves Aren’t Needed
- Wearing gloves aside, these instances (e.g., when using a shopping cart in the mall or when using an ATM) will not necessarily protect you from getting infected with COVID-19 and may still cause the further spreading of germs.
- The best and effective way to protect yourself from germs when going out or running errands is to regularly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Gloves and COVID-19
Carefully washing your hands for at least 20 seconds is still the best and effective defense against COVID-19. However, whenever you go to the mall or a grocery store, or other public places, you may not have access to soap and water, hand sanitizer, or even wipes to clean the grocery carts. That’s the reason behind people wearing gloves when using a shopping cart. Unfortunately, wearing gloves can give you a false sense of security because the virus attaches well to latex and other types of gloves. So, if you touch any part of your face at any point, you’ve still strongly exposed yourself to the virus.
Should You Be Wearing Gloves in Public?
Currently, public health officials aren't presently recommending that you wear gloves while going out or running necessary errands.
As long as you can quickly spread germs from your hands to the mucous membranes of your face, you can also spread germs from the gloves you're wearing to your mouth, eyes, and nose. Also, you can still spread germs to other objects you touch, such as your purse or wallet, phone, tablet or computer, glasses, etc.
Besides, if you're doing everything correctly to avoid cross-contamination, always remember that the gloves will only be efficient if you're removing and discarding them properly.
If You Want to Wear Gloves, Ensure You Take Them Off the Proper Way.
There's always a proper way and a wrong way to remove your gloves. And if you're not removing them properly and at the right time, you're typically undoing all of the protective benefits.
Carefully follow these steps when removing your gloves:
- Without touching any part of your skin, grab the first glove at your wrist and gently pull away from your arm.
- As you pull the glove downward, ensure it folds inside out.
- Then hold the glove inside out with the fingers of your hand that's still gloved.
- Carefully slide your ungloved fingers into the palm inside your gloved hand, and avoid it touching the outside of the glove.
- Pull the glove downward, turning it inside out.
- As you pull it toward your fingers, let the second glove wrap around the first glove.
- Right now, the second glove should already be inside out, with the first glove tucked inside of it.
- Then carefully dispose of the gloves.
- After disposing of the gloves, wash your hands thoroughly.
Nevertheless, if you're a visual person, double-check your glove removal technique by referring to the CDC's visual guide to removing gloves.
Be reminded that you should never wear gloves more than once, and they should be properly removed. Afterward, wash your hands thoroughly before entering a clean environment or setting or before touching any clean surface or object such as your purse, phone, or touching the handle of your car door.
Adhering strictly to the CDC and other health professionals' guidelines will go a long way in keeping you and your family safe from contacting COVID-19. To be updated with their recommendations, visit the CDC website for regular updates.