A ton of people are wearing gloves to the store. Should I be wearing gloves too?

Staying Safe

A: Nah. Most of the time, wearing gloves isn’t making you any safer.

Instead, wear a mask, avoid touching your face or the front of your face mask, and wash your hands! Below are some tips from your Friendly Family MD about the dos and don’ts of gloves.

When going to the store, gas station, or pharmacy, gloves aren’t doing much. It’s easy to wear them incorrectly, get a little tear, or have a false sense of security and let your guard down. Gloves get dirty just like hands. I can’t even begin to count the number of people I have seen touch their face after handling all sorts of stuff, thinking it was ok because they had gloves on! And, remember, transmission is mainly from person to person, less commonly from surfaces or objects we touch (called fomites). It is WAY more important to socially distance, mask up, avoid crowds, minimize how long you need to be out in public (especially if inside!) and wash hands.

So, when should someone wear gloves? Gloves are appropriate when cleaning or disinfecting, particularly if the product recommends glove use. This is protecting yourself from chemicals that can irritate the skin.

Gloves are also a good idea when taking care of someone who has COVID-19. Use disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting areas the sick individual frequently touches and ALWAYS use gloves when handling any body fluid from sick individuals (that includes blood, poop, snot, pee, and spit). Ask yourself when caring for someone who is sick: “Is what I am touching sticky or wet?”

f yes, gloves are required.

If you do need to wear gloves, make sure that you are gloving up right. Wash your hands before putting on gloves. Pick the right size: too big or too little and gloves are uncomfortable and get in the way. Once the gloves are on, treat them the same as a bare hand. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. To get the gloves off, grab the edge of the glove at the wrist and pull away from the body, turning the glove inside out. Hold the removed glove in the palm of your gloved hand. Slip your bare fingers underneath the remaining glove (avoiding touching the outside of the glove) and pull that away from the body, turning the glove inside out and encasing the first glove inside of it. Then, chuck the used gloves out. Check out this handy CDC graphic on how to remove gloves. Most importantly, wash your hands after removing gloves.

CDC recommendation on when to wear gloves.

All this relies on good hand hygiene. Just in case, here is a useful primer.

This post is a part of our September series with a family physician, a proud member of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

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