Staff & patient safety

Powder keg: The dangers of powder in surgical gloves

By : Mölnlycke Health Care, March 14 2017Posted in: Staff & patient safety

The dangers of powder in surgical gloves have long been known and well-documented.

Eliminating the use of glove powder can help eliminate several adverse health effects that may result from its use, such as postoperative adhesions, granulomas, wound contamination and delayed wound healing1,2.

Other health effects

Surgical glove powder can also cause the following adverse health effects:

Increased risk of surgical site infections (SSIs):

Glove powder can trigger reduced resistance to infection, bacterial environmental contamination, foreign body reaction, delayed wound healing, adhesion formation and granuloma formation1,2. All of these potential consequences can increase the risk of surgical site infection (SSI)3.

Latex allergy and occupational asthma:

Powdered latex gloves have been implicated as the largest single contributor to the latex aeroallergen levels in a healthcare facility4,5. Latex proteins can be aerosolized by attaching to glove powder. This not only increases the risk of acquiring a latex allergy, but can also increase the risk of acquiring occupational asthma6.

Glove powder increases latex allergy sensitization, potentially eliciting delayed hypersensitivity reactions. Powdered surgical gloves show higher levels of natural rubber latex allergens than gloves that are powder-free. This allows for the potential increase in latex sensitization and/or Type I reactions upon direct and indirect contact7,8,9,10,11,12.

For more information about the dangers of powder, please read the publication of the Top Clinical Reasons to Wear Powder-Free Gloves (external link, opens in a new window).

Biogel surgical gloves: powder-free since 1984

Every single Biogel® surgical glove is powder-free, and has been for over 30 years.

Biogel sold the world's first powder-free surgical glove in 1984, and over 30 years later, Biogel is still the only major surgical glove brand with an exclusively powder-free range.

Find out more about the Biogel surgical gloves range


  1. van den Tol, M.P., Haverlag, R, van Rossen, M.E.E., Bonthuis, F., Marquet, R.L., Jeekel, J. Glove powder promotes adhesion formation and facilitates tumour cell adhesion and growth. British Journal of Surgery. 2001;88:1258-1263.
  2. Edlich, R.F. Deadly Powder on Medical Gloves; A Wake-Up Call to the Food and Drug Administration, 2012:70. [Accessed 06/04/2016].
  3. Suding, P., Nguyen, T., Gordon, I., Wilson, S.E. Glove powder increases Staphylococcus aureus abscess rate in Sprague-Dawley rats. Surgical Infections  2010;11(2):133-135. doi: 10.1089/sur.2008.055.
  4. AORN Latex Guideline. Perioperative Standards and Recommended Practices 2012; 605-620.
  5. Burlingame, B., Conner, R. Recommended practices for a safe environment of care. Perioperative Standards and Recommended Practices 2013;217-242.
  6. Hoy, R.F., Burgess, J.A., Benke, G., Matheson, M., Morrison, S., Gurrin, L., Walters, E., Haydn, D.M., Dharmage, S., Abramson, M. Occupational exposures and the development of new-onset asthma: a population-based cohort study from the ages of 13 to 44 years. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2013;55(3): 235-239.
  7. Edlich, R.F., Long, W.B., Gubler, D.K., Rodeheaver, G.T., Thacker, J.G., Borel, L., Chase, M.E., Fisher, A.L., Mason, S.S., Lin, K.Y., Cox, M.J., Zura, R.D. Dangers of cornstarch powder on medical gloves. Annals of Plastic  Surgery 2009;63(1):111-115.
  8. Barbara, J, Santais, M-C., Levy, D.A., Ruff, F., Leynadier, F. Inhaled cornstarch glove powder increases latex-induced airway hyper-sensitivity in guinea pigs. Clinical and Experimental Allergy 2004;34:978-983.
  9. Grunewald, J., Eklund, A., Katchar, K., Moshfegh, A., Liden, C., Lundgren, L., Skare, L. Tornling, G. Lung accumulations of eosinophil granulocytes after exposure to cornstarch glove powder. European Respiratory Journal 2003;21:646-651.
  10. Filon, L., Radman, G. Latex allergy: a follow up study of 1040 healthcare workers. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2006;63:121-125.
  11. Kelly, K.J., Wang, M.L., Klancnik, M., Petsonk, E.L. Prevention of IgE sensitization to latex in health care workers after reduction of antigen exposures. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2011; 53(8):934-940.
  12. Hunt, T.K., Slavin, J.P., Goodson, W.H. Starch powder contaminants of surgical wounds. Archives of Surgery 1994;129:824-827.
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