FDA recommends ban of powdered medical gloves, local doctors agree

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — They look just like normal gloves you’d see in any medical office, but the substance that’s inside powdered medical gloves can be dangerous.

“Patients who have asthma, bad allergies, they may not be aware and they can start developing reactions to that. Increased coughing, increased difficulty breathing,” said Dr. Joseph Chow, WNY Immediate Care Chief Medical Officer.

Dr. Chow says powder in the form of cornstarch or talcum makes it easier for physicians and clinicians to put the gloves on and off.

But he says the convenience is not worth the potential threat to both practitioners and patients.

“With the patients we found that with the powder, it can have increased amounts of post operative complications with scarring, potentially with infection,” said Dr. Chow.

That’s why the FDA is recommending to ban most powdered medical gloves across the country. Inhaling the powder can lead to respiratory issues and allergic reactions. If the powder is exposed to a wound, it can cause inflammation.

Doctor Chow says powdered gloves are commonly used in surgery but are also used for everyday procedures. At WNY Immediate Care facilities, powdered gloves haven’t been used in years. Instead power-free gloves are used as a safer alternative.

“Gloves are an important part of clinician’s practices everyday, and again anything we can do to improve the safety of the patients are things we should adopt and continue to seek doing,” said Dr. Chow.

The FDA started to look into the negative side effects of powdered gloves almost 20 years ago in 1997, but didn’t recommend banning them until now.

Dr. Chow says the vast majority of practices don’t use powdered gloves anymore.

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