RCN campaign raises awareness of when and when not to use gloves

College says inappropriate use can risk damage to hands as well as infection 

College says inappropriate use can risk damage to hands as well as infection 

Picture: iStock

A new RCN campaign is asking all nurses to think twice before using examination gloves when carrying out tasks.

The college will host Glove Awareness Week from 29 April to 3 May, and wants nurses to consider when gloves should be worn and what they can do to reduce the risk of damage to their hands due to their overuse.

Gloves on, or gloves off? Why correct glove use matters

  • Skin health: The RCN says 1,000 healthcare staff develop work-related contact dermatitis on their hands every year. Contact dermatitis is a painful condition that can be caused by overexposure to irritants such as soap or water, or inappropriate use of gloves, and can lead to nursing staff being moved out of clinical areas due to infection risks.
  • Overuse of gloves: According to the RCN, the NHS spends more than £35 million a year on examination gloves. The college also claims they are used too often, and an over-reliance on them can lead to poor hand hygiene and increased risk of infection.


To help nurses become more glove aware, the RCN has produced a variety of resources, such as posters, a leaflet and a ‘selfie board’ to record good practice regarding glove use. 

RCN professional lead for infection prevention and control Rose Gallagher said knowing when not to wear gloves was as important as knowing when to wear them.

‘Using gloves should not be seen as a replacement for good hand hygiene,’ she said.

‘If we don’t look after our hands, we may not be able to look after our patients and will risk long-term damage to our hands, which in some cases can be lifelong damage.’

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