Ever since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic in March of 2020, people across the world have been scrambling to avoid it. There have been revolutionary jumps in preventative medicine, creative approaches to cleaning, and – with it – a lot of misinformation
Unfortunately, everything that you hear about the pandemic and how to avoid it isn’t necessarily true. One of the biggest uncertainties that have arisen during the pandemic is gloves. Who knew that such a common protective item would spark such controversy?
If you’re curious as to how glove protection truly affects your ability to avoid COVID-19, keep reading. We’re going to put this controversy to rest once and for all.
How Is COVID-19 Spread?
Before we get into whether or not wearing gloves leads to COVID protection, we need to evaluate how COVID-19 spreads from person to person. Unfortunately, these facts have even been miscommunicated and twisted from person to person.
Simply put, COVID-19 spreads primarily through the particles in the air. When someone who has the coronavirus breathes, coughs, sneezes, or disposes of their respiratory droplets in another way, those particles become immersed in the air particles around them.
Then, if any individuals are around that infected individual, they are likely to breathe in those respiratory particles the infected individual disposed of. The reference to being six feet apart refers to the distance that those respiratory droplets can travel.
Because of the density of the respiratory droplets, they cannot stay (or suspend) for too long among the other air particles. Eventually, they will fall to the ground or another surface that is underneath them.
This is great because you could – in theory – avoid the infection if you remain six feet away. However, it’s not that simple.
Because the particles are dropping to surfaces underneath where they’re being deposited, those particles are sticking to and remaining on those surfaces. This means that someone could become infected with the virus if they were to touch the surface and then come into contact with their mucous membranes (through their nose, eyes, and mouth).
Will Glove Protection Prevent Spread Between Surfaces?
Wearing gloves became a supposed solution to the problem of surface spreading. If you had gloved hands, then you couldn’t pick up the respiratory particles with your bare hands and transfer them to your mucous membranes.
However, there are a few catches that come with wearing gloves. It isn’t as easy as it appears.
Gloves Do Not Replace Hand Washing
Don’t assume that you don’t have to wash your hands since you wore gloves. It’s not only dangerous in terms of COVID protection but it isn’t sanitary.
You’ve had your hands inside of a hot glove for a long period of time. You need to wash your hands to clean out your pores and rub off the excess germs left behind. Besides this, you should wash your hands after removing the gloves because it’s likely that you touched the outside of the glove while you were removing them.
When in doubt, go to the sink and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control says that washing your hands is the best defense against COVID-19. So, you should make sure that you’re regularly washing your hands to remove germs.
Gloves Should Be Worn Once Per Action
People all around the world are wearing gloves for all sorts of occasions: shopping at the grocery store, driving cars, eating at restaurants, and so on. The only problem is that they’re wearing the same pair of gloves to complete all of these tasks.
Regardless of what some people think, gloves are not inherently clean just because they’re a sanitation item. Gloves do get dirty as they’re used.
This is why you should change out your gloves often. If you don’t, this leads to cross-contamination, when one glove transfers dirt and germs from one surface to another.
When you touch a surface with gloved hands, the germs from that surface go onto the glove. If you were to then touch another surface with that same glove, you’re transferring the germs that you picked up from that surface and taking them to the other surface.
This means that you could be aiding in the transfer of the coronavirus if you were to wear the same pair of gloves while completing multiple tasks.
Should I Wear Gloves?
So, we come down to the final question: should you wear gloves?
That answer depends on what you’re using them for. If you’re a healthcare worker who is changing gloves between every room, you should wear gloves. If you’re an essential worker who is changing gloves between each task, it’s likely that those gloves are providing a decent level of protection.
However, if you’re at the grocery store or completing another mundane task, gloves likely aren’t helping you. With these kinds of tasks, you are touching several objects one after the other. This means that you’re likely spreading germs from surface to surface by wearing gloves.
Also, gloves don’t eliminate the danger associated with transfer from surfaces to your face. If the coronavirus is present on your gloves and you touch your face, you’ve likely spread the virus unintentionally.
Should I Have Gloves?
While we don’t recommend that everyone wear gloves all of the time, we do recommend that everyone have a couple of pairs of gloves available for emergency use. For example, someone may get a cut. If you are administering first aid during a pandemic, you should be wearing gloves while doing so.
For first aid refills, go here: https://www.firstaidsuppliesonline.com/product-category/first-aid-kits/first-aid-kit-refills/.
Where Can I Learn More?
If you’re interested in learning more about glove protection and other ways to improve COVID protection, you should check out the rest of our blog. We have more helpful information just like we’ve shared here.
In the meantime, take care of yourself and use your gloves properly. If you don’t follow CDC guidelines and our advice here, you could be doing more hard than good.