Wearing gloves during coronavirus pandemic can still put you at risk for exposure, says Cleveland Clinic

Gloves are only good protection if the person wearing them follows the proper measures

One of the country's top medical centers warned again this week that wearing gloves while shopping during the coronavirus pandemic is not a good idea.

The Cleveland Clinic took to social media on Monday to reiterate its message from April that you shouldn't wear gloves while running errands, such as going grocery shopping.

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“We’re seeing a lot of people out in public wearing gloves, which isn’t wrong so to say,” Dr. Patricia Dandache, an infectious disease specialist, stated back in April when the health system initially made the suggestion. “But unfortunately, most people aren’t wearing or disposing of their gloves correctly, which defeats the whole purpose.”

“Gloves do not give you immunity nor permission to touch everything within reach either. Any germs that might be on your gloves can be transferred to all other surfaces and items you touch," the physician cautioned.

“Gloves do not give you immunity nor permission to touch everything within reach either. Any germs that might be on your gloves can be transferred to all other surfaces and items you touch," the physician cautioned. (Elena Perova/ iStock )

"There are many factors that play into why gloves aren’t always an effective protection measure," outside of direct patient care, Dandache said.

“There could be a tear or rip in the gloves, you could put them on or take them off incorrectly, but most importantly, the gloves could give you a false sense of security – and you end up touching everything you please, including your face, leading to self-contamination," Dandache added.

The infectious disease doctor said the gloves are only good protection if the person wearing them follows the proper measures – but noted that most people don’t.

“Gloves do not give you immunity nor permission to touch everything within reach either. Any germs that might be on your gloves can be transferred to all other surfaces and items you touch," the physician cautioned. "This is why it’s counterproductive to wear gloves, yet continue to rummage through your purse or text on your phone while in the store.”

Touching your face with gloves still puts you at risk for exposure to the virus, the health expert said.

“The coronavirus can enter your body through mucous membranes, like in your nose and mouth,” Dandache stated. “It does not enter your body through your hands, but the hands can transport the viral particles to the mucus membranes. There’s even the possibility that the virus could stick to the latex in gloves better than it could adhere to your own skin.”

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If you are venturing out to the grocery store, Dandache recommended following these tips:

  • Avoid touching your face
  • Don’t touch your mask once it’s on your face.
  • Don’t touch your phone.
  • Limit the surfaces and food items  you touch
  • Practice social distancing (at least 6 feet from others) while in the store.
  • Sanitize your hands when you get into your car and immediately wash your hands when you get home after unloading the groceries

If you do wear gloves, it is important to avoid cross-contamination, experts say.

“Many people don’t take off their gloves the right way, further contaminating themselves and others around them,” Dandache said.  “And you should never, ever reuse gloves.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends on its website to wear gloves when disinfecting and cleaning your home or when caring for a sick person.

To correctly remove gloves in these instances, the federal health agency advises to:

  • Grab the outside of one glove at the wrist, but avoid touching your skin
  • Peel the glove away from your body, pulling it inside out.
  • Use your gloved hand to hold the glove you just removed
  • Peel off the second glove by putting your fingers inside the glove at the top of your wrist.
  • Turn the second glove inside out while pulling it away from your body, leaving the first glove inside the second.
  • Throw the gloves into the trash immediately not on the ground!
  • After removing gloves, immediately wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer

CDC experts also say to avoid wearing gloves to the grocery store.

"The best way to protect yourself from germs when running errands and after going out is to regularly wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol," the CDC states.