Moisture Management

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Moisture Management: The Problem


When single-use (SU) gloves are a part of your daily routine, ensuring your hands stay healthy is no small feat. The first step is always prevention to avoid future problems down the road, and moisture is one of the most common skin irritants in a glove-protected environment, especially when that moisture stays on the skin for long periods of time.

SW Safety Solutions Inc: Moisture Management

To say wetness in a glove is uncomfortable is an understatement. Not only does it hinder your ability to perform certain job functions by limiting your dexterity, tactility and mobility, but it also becomes a safety hazard, since some workers will opt to forego gloves altogether rather than deal with the sticky, oppressive feeling of a wet glove.[1] Another consideration is how this occlusive environment serves as a breeding ground for bacteria, fungus and other nasty elements that can negatively impact your hand’s health.






Effects on Skin


Repeatedly alternating from a wet to dry environment, like donning and removing several pairs of gloves a day, exacerbates skin irritation. While contained within a moisture-laden environment, the skin layers become macerated. This leads to a number of harmful effects, and the skin’s reaction to external substances may vary based on not only the length of exposure, but the degree of barrier damage inflicted.


The outer most section of skin, called the stratus corneum, has three layers itself. The bottom is the actual barrier that regulates absorption into the body. The top layer contains cells that, although are not dead cells, have no development process left—they merely serve as the frontline in regulating moisture within the body and keeping unwanted elements out. The middle layer exhibits properties of both the top and bottom sections, a kind of mixing of the two functions.


As moisture stays on the skin, natural barrier components, such as essential lipids, are stripped away, leaving the skin more exposed to the harmful elements that thrive in a warm moist environment. Conceptually among the scientific community, skin structure has been described as a kind of brick and mortar system—the lipids hold the cells together, regulating the stratus corneum, so ensuring they stay in balance is essential.[2]


And at a deeper level, individual cell function is disrupted as the excessive moisture penetrates down into the dermal layers, preventing the skin from being able to adequately reproduce and rejuvenate. 


And it doesn’t get any better when gloves are removed. Compromised skin is exposed to a dramatic fluctuation in temperature as well as a much more arid environment. This volatile combination leads to increases in skin irritation, such as dryness, chapping and cracking, that can lead to more serious skin conditions such as chronic dermatitis. Workers in the medical, dental and veterinary fields are more susceptible to this pattern of glove donning and removal and the subsequent skin irritation, as a new pair of gloves is typically required as each new patient is seen.



Don’t Dread the Donning


Sweating while wearing a SU glove is inevitable. These types of gloves are designed to form a non-permeable layer between the outside environment and your hands for protection and safety. Once a glove is donned, the environment within begins to change. Temperature rises, causing the hand to sweat, which then affects pH levels.


Commonly used moisture management techniques include frequent glove changes to limit exposure to prolonged moisture as well as emollients and creams that add an additional layer of protection between glove moisture and the skin.


But glove changes impede productivity, since you need to stop what you are doing to remove and then don a new pair of gloves. And as noted above, constantly alternating between environmental extremes can actually do more harm than good.


And in certain instances, the slippery layer of a cream could negatively impact dexterity and tactile sensation, leading to potential hazards and compromises in safety within the work environment, especially in the manufacturing, automotive and assembly industries.[3]


So, while these techniques may be the traditional methods of managing moisture in the occlusive environment, they aren’t necessarily the best solutions. Technologies within the glove are helping to manage this interior environment and make the wearing experience much more comfortable and productive, while providing benefits that protect the skin from the occlusive environment itself.


One such technology is a flock lining that wicks moisture from the skin. Creating a dryer ecosystem within the glove provides a healthier environment for the hand.

1. "When Workers Won't Wear Gloves." ISHN RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.

2. Fore-Pfliger, Jane. "Advances in Skin & Wound Care." The Epidermal Skin Barrier. N.p., Oct. 2004. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.

3. Miller, Samantha. "Occlusive, Ingredients Found in Dry Skin Moisturizers - The Naked Chemist." The Naked Chemist. N.p., 20 Jan. 2013. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.