Wearing This One Item to Avoid COVID Is a Huge Mistake, Doctors Warn

Don't let this piece of PPE fool you into thinking you're protecting yourself against the coronavirus.

The idea of leaving the house without donning your PPE these days has all but become a distant memory. This is especially true of face coverings, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say is crucial to stopping the spread of coronavirus. But there's another piece of protective gear that medical experts have actually spoken out against wearing: latex or vinyl gloves. In fact, doctors even warn that wearing gloves to avoid COVID is a huge mistake.

Unlike masks, which stop you from inhaling or exhaling airborne particles that can carry the virus, experts say that gloves do not provide safety for the people wearing them or the others around them. "I think that disposable surgical gloves don't really have a place in coronavirus (protection)," Allison Bartlett, MD, associate medical director of the Infection Control Program Pediatric at the University of Chicago, told The Chicago Tribune. "People get the false sense of security that their hands are clean and protected when that's not the case at all."

Medical bandages and gloves on a blue background.

What's even worse is that experts also claim that gloving up creates a false sense of security that can sometimes increase your chances of accidentally contracting or transmitting COVID. "If you wear gloves in situations that do not have an obvious start and stopping point, you forget that your gloves are contaminated," Leann Poston, MD, medical expert for Ikon Health, previously told Best Life. "People put on gloves, go shopping, use their cell phones, touch their faces, enter their cars and homes, and then remove their gloves. Their hands were covered, but they cross-contaminated everything they touched. It is easier to forget about cross-contamination when wearing gloves. You are much more aware of what you touch when your hands are bare."

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Bartlett also points out that every pair of gloves that is used ineffectively by someone in public is a pair that doesn't make its way to a healthcare worker who desperately needs gloves to do their job.

And of course, there's also the environment to consider. "The only thing that irks me more than seeing people out and about in the grocery store with gloves is on my walk home from the hospital when I see the new COVID garbage on the ground," Bartlett said.

The CDC does recommend the use of gloves in just two instances. The first is while deep cleaning your home—although this is more for protecting your hands from irritating disinfectants than keeping virus particles off of your skin. The second is anytime you're caring for someone who is sick. "Use disposable gloves when touching or having contact with blood, stool, or body fluids, such as saliva, mucus, vomit, and urine," the CDC states. "After using disposable gloves, throw them out in a lined trash can. Do not disinfect or reuse the gloves." And always wash or sanitize your hands after removing them. And for more ways to stay safe from COVID, check out The One Way Dr. Fauci Says You're Not Protecting Yourself From COVID.

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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