FDA bans use of powdered gloves for health professionals in USA

21 February 2017

In light of concerns that the use of powdered gloves poses "unreasonable and substantial risk to patients and health care workers", primarily because it may induce inflammation, granulomas and respiratory allergic reactions in patients and healthcare professionals, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has banned the use of powdered gloves in the USA. 

Effective 18 January, U.S. healthcare workers are banned from using both the powdered gloves themselves, and absorbable powders that may be used to lubricate a medical glove. The prohibition on use does not apply to Australia.

While there was an appeal by the dental industry to exempt it from the ban, the FDA maintains that "dentists and dental patients face the same risks as other medical practices …" and therefore, the ban would apply equally across the entire healthcare industry. 

Currently powdered gloves are not banned in Australia. However the National Health and Medical Research Council, says they 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 position:

“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.”

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. 

For further information on the DFA ruling, please go to www.federalregister.gov, for the NHMRC paper on gloves, please go to nhmrc.gov.au and ada.org.au for Guidelines for Infection Control