In response to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s decision to ban the use of powdered gloves in the USA, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) has stated its own position in relation to their use which is still permitted in Australia.
Since 18 January, US healthcare workers have been banned from using both the powdered gloves themselves, and absorbable powders that may be used to lubricate a medical glove, due to concerns they pose “unreasonable and substantial risk to patients and health care workers”.
Specifically, the concerns are they may induce inflammation, granulomas and respiratory allergic reactions in patients and healthcare professionals.
Although powdered gloves are not banned in Australia, the National Health and Medical Research Council nevertheless advises gloves should be non-powdered “due to the risks associated with aerosolisation and an increased risk of latex allergies”.
The ADA’s Guidelines for Infection Control endorse this advice:
“It is strongly recommended to use powder-free gloves for patient care because this reduces exposure of staff to latex proteins via both respiratory and contact routes, thereby minimising the risk of developing latex allergy. If the dental practitioner, clinical support staff member or patient has a proven or suspected allergy to latex, alternatives must be used such as neoprene or nitrile gloves. A latex-free protocol must also be followed including use of non-latex rubber dam, and use of non-latex materials such as prophylaxis cups.”
In another statement, the ADA adds: “Gloves remain an important means of protecting both patients and healthcare workers from exposure to infectious agents through direct contact with blood or body substances, a key component of infection control procedures used in dental practices throughout the world.”