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Copper Gloves: Complete Guide (Updated 2020)

Copper Gloves: Complete Guide (Updated 2020)

In this article, we reveal everything you need to know about copper gloves, copper compression gloves and copper infused gloves. Let's get started!

Introduction

While copper products such as copper-infused fabrics and related inventions might seem like the newest trends, the power of copper has been known by ancient and Eastern civilizations for centuries. Copper was used to transport water during the days of the Roman Empire and has been stored in copper pots in India for hundreds of years as per Ayurvedic medicine. The medical use of copper was first written about in Egypt between 2600 and 2000 BCE in a medical text called the Edwin Smith Papyrus, which noted that applying copper flakes was recorded to heal wounds faster. In the mid-1850s, a French physician observed that Parisian copper miners did not contract cholera during three huge outbreaks. What all these things have in common is the understanding that copper, a reddish-brown, soft metal that looks sleek and trendy in today’s world, is actually very good for our health. 

One of the ways to benefit from copper is to wear copper gloves. Although there are many copper-infused garments on the market today, copper gloves are special for several reasons. For starters, copper gloves have been said to benefit those suffering from many different ailments that affect the hands, from arthritis to carpal tunnel syndrome and more. More recently, however, copper gloves have become popular among all types of people during the COVID-19 pandemic as copper is known to have antiviral and antibacterial properties. Copper gloves have a variety of benefits and uses but, as with any marketed product, it is important to inform yourself about how that product works and what it can and cannot do. To help you with this, we have created an ultimate guide to everything you need to know about copper gloves. 

This guide includes:

  • What are Copper Gloves? 
  • Benefits of Copper Gloves 
    • Copper Gloves and Arthritis 
    • Copper Gloves and Other Common Hand Pains and Problems 
    • Copper Gloves and the Coronavirus  
  • How to Use Copper Gloves 
  • How to Care for Copper Gloves 
  • Things to Keep in Mind When Buying Copper Gloves 

What are Copper Gloves? 

Copper gloves have been marketed as “wearable wellness.” The gloves, which are generally infused with copper fibers that have a high concentration of copper ions, tend to be available in both full-length and fingerless options. Having the choice between the two ensures that wearers can find a perfect pair for their needs and lifestyles. Copper gloves tend to be comfortable, lightweight and breathable and can be worn any time of the day and during many different daily activities like gardening, cooking, crafting, typing or even swiping on your smartphone or tablet. 

Putting aside the difference between full-length and fingerless copper gloves, there are generally two kinds of copper gloves. The first kind are generally gloves made using copper infused fibres which have a normal fit. The second kind are essentially the same, except that they have a compression feature which makes the gloves much more snug and tight on your hands. Some proponents of copper compression gloves believe that the compression feature can have additional health benefits, as discussed in more detail below.

One can wear copper gloves to reap a variety of benefits. Proponents of copper gloves claim that by wearing copper fabric the skin will absorb small copper particles (which the body needs anyway as copper is a vital mineral) with the result being a reduction of inflammation in the joints. It is for this reason that copper bracelets have become quite popular. Because of copper's supposed ability to reduce inflammation, copper gloves are often associated with alleviating many common types of hand pains and problems. From arthritis to hand injuries, repetitive motion pains or stiffness and swelling, proponents of copper gloves say that copper gloves can bring great relief to these problems. 

As mentioned in the introduction, one of the benefits of copper was discovered centuries ago; copper, and thus, copper gloves, are antiviral and antibacterial in nature. In the past, this has been shown in various studies where copper surfaces are used and bacteria and virus samples are introduced and then observed. For example, a 2012 study published in the Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition found that water stored in copper pots was substantially more clean than water stored in other types of containers, even when mixed with harmful bacteria like e. Coli, salmonella typhi and vibrio cholerae. A previous study published in 2008 by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proved that copper surfaces were able to reduce bacterial contamination by over 90%, even after multiple exposures to harmful bacteria. The EPA even registered copper and copper alloys as the first solid antimicrobial material. Copper has also shown that it can destroy certain viruses within a matter of hours. In other words, copper surfaces provide long-lasting antimicrobial action and prevent the buildup of bacteria, which is crucial when surfaces are touched frequently. This is especially important during a time in history when viruses and bacteria are capable of spreading so quickly. 

Copper is also known to fight foul odors, which is perfect if you need to wear your copper gloves for long periods of time. It also helps keep your hands drier than gloves without copper because the copper fiber generally helps wick away any moisture. Wearing copper gloves can even potentially promote the production of collagen and elastin, which will leave the skin on your hands healthier and softer. 

As noted above, copper compression gloves are essentially the same as copper gloves except that they come with a compression feature. Copper compression gloves are used to provide constant pressure and warmth on muscles and joints within the hand. This compression is said to lower pain and improve mobility in the hand. The compression feature is also believed to increase the anti-inflammatory properties of copper that help in reducing joint stiffness, swelling and damaged muscles. Copper compression gloves are also believed to help encourage improved blood circulation and oxidation. As the copper compression gloves work to improve your symptoms, you may find an increase in hand mobility and find that everyday tasks involving yours hands become easier or less painful.

Benefits of Copper Gloves 

As discussed above, copper gloves are said to provide relief to many different types of hand problems and pains such as arthritis, injuries, carpal tunnel and more. In addition, copper gloves can, in combination with good hygiene practices, minimize the spread of bacteria and viruses. In this section, we discuss the science and research on these benefits of copper gloves. 

Copper Gloves and Arthritis 

According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis affects nearly 54 million adults and has become the leading cause of disability in the United States. This debilitating disease affects the joints and causes chronic swelling, stiffness, tenderness and pain. The most common types of arthritis include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. 

Some copper glove companies have marketed their products towards arthritis sufferers; however, as lawsuits and clinical studies have found, copper is not always the best treatment for arthritis. For example, in 2015 a popular copper glove and copper accessories company had to pay a $1.35 million fine to the Federal Trade Commission due to deceptive advertising. To put it simply, copper and copper gloves are not a cure-all for arthritis. However, personal testimonials from some compression copper glove wearers suggest that copper gloves may help provide temporary relief throughout the day. 

While there are not many studies that explore the benefits of copper on arthritis, it is medically proven that compression is helpful to arthritic hands. The often used mnemonic device for treating injuries or inflammation is “RICE,” meaning rest, ice, compression and elevation. Compression is key for providing relief to arthritis in the hands. Applying pressure on aching joints through compression gloves stimulates oxygen delivery and promotes better blood flow in the body; this in turn helps relieve arthritic symptoms such as aches, pains and stiffness.

Because compression gloves can provide relief to your wrist, hands and fingers, they can be worn all day, making everyday tasks easier and less painful. While more studies are needed to explore the connection between copper and arthritis relief, the affordability of copper compression gloves means there is generally no harm in trying them. 

Copper Gloves and Other Common Hand Pains and Problems 

In addition to arthritis, copper gloves are said to provide relief to several different common hand pains and problems. Whether you are suffering from pain, swelling, stiffness, inflammation or are recovering from an injury or strained muscle, you might find that copper gloves are a great treatment option. 

One hand condition that may be helped with the use of copper compression gloves is Raynaud’s Syndrome. Raynaud’s disease is a disorder of the blood vessels in the fingers and toes. When cold or stressed, the blood vessels in these areas narrow and restrict blood flow to that area. Copper compression gloves provide constant warmth to your hands ensuring they do not get cold enough to shrink the blood vessels. The compression also helps with continuous blood circulation and oxidation. If you suffer from this disease, wearing copper compression gloves can reduce flare-ups and protect you during the winter months. 

Ehler-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) is another condition that can be treated with copper compression gloves. EDS causes overly flexible joints and elastic skin. Due to the nature of the skin and joints, people with EDS experience a greater number of injuries and joint dislocations. Copper compression gloves work to restabilize and provide support to the overly flexible joints in your hands and fingers.

Copper gloves can also be used to treat fibromyalgia, a disorder that can be characterized by widespread muscle pain and tenderness. If you experience fibromyalgia in your hands, wearing copper compression gloves can stimulate blood flow to improve soreness in the muscles. The anti-inflammatory properties of copper can also reduce any swelling that occurs. It can be especially beneficial to wear them at night so that pain does not disrupt your sleep. 

If you experience hand edema or swelling from injuries like burns, fractures or surgeries, then copper compression gloves may be able to help. Hand edema is swelling of the hand as a result of excess fluid trapped in the body’s tissue. Copper compression gloves help by reducing the inflammation and swelling associated with these conditions. 

Lastly, carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated with copper compression gloves. Carpal tunnel is a fairly common condition that affects the ligaments, nerves and bones in the hand. Carpal tunnel can cause numbness, weakness, pain and decreased mobility. By improving blood flow and increasing oxygen, copper compression gloves can help treat those symptoms and improve mobility and reduce stiffness.  

Copper Gloves and the Coronavirus 

As mentioned earlier, copper is an antiviral and antibacterial material. This allows copper to quickly and effectively destroy many types of viruses and bacteria, including certain strains of the coronavirus.

When copper comes into contact with viruses or bacteria a series of actions are set in motion to inactivate, or destroy, the harmful microbes. After making contact with copper, bacteria and viruses begin to absorb electrically charged particles known as copper ions. The copper ions are key for the oligodynamic effect to take place. The oligodynamic effect, first recognized by the scientific community over 150 years ago, describes the process of copper ions destroying the walls (membranes) of bacteria and viruses. Once the membrane damage reaches a certain threshold, the DNA and RNA of the bacteria or virus is also destroyed. The destruction of the DNA and RNA ensures that the bacteria or virus cannot reproduce or mutate, which means that it is essentially inactivated and no longer harmful. 

While there are not many scientific studies at this time that confirm that copper can kill COVID-19, there is one notable study that supports the idea that copper could be a potential tool to help fight the virus. This study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, was conducted under the combined efforts of the National Institutes of Health, the CDC and UCLA and Princeton University scientists. They found that while COVID-19 could survive for two or three days on plastic and stainless steel surfaces and 24 hours on cardboard, the virus was destroyed within four hours on copper surfaces.

Another study published a few years ago by the Centre for Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom studied a different strain of the coronavirus, known as HCoV-229E. This strain of the virus, which causes respiratory tract infections, was discovered to linger on surfaces like glass, rubber and stainless steel for up to five days. However, their experiments found that copper rapidly inactivated the virus. In fact, even metal alloys with at least 90% copper could inactivate the virus within 30 minutes or less. 

Lastly, a study from 2014 tested copper fabric’s effectiveness against Bovine Coronavirus (BCoVs). The study, which was conducted by the Institute for Hygiene and Microbiology, found that copper-infused fabric was effective in destroying the virus.  

A chart from the HCoV-229E study summarizing the impact on the virus in relation to the percentage of copper in the metal surface. (Source: Centre for Biological Sciences)

As COVID-19  continues to spread and affect hundreds of thousands of people around the world, scientists continue to look for answers and solutions concerning the power of copper to fight viruses. For example, researchers at the University of Arizona are even exploring whether or not copper-based chemical compounds might stop the virus that causes COVID-19. 

In the meantime, a surge in copper-laced clothing and accessories such as masks and gloves have surged. Gloves made with copper-infused fabrics or copper linings can be beneficial when defending oneself against the coronavirus. When going out in public, wearing copper gloves can help reduce microbial exposure when coming in contact with commonly touched surfaces like credit card pin pads, gas pumps, door handles, elevator buttons, countertops and so much more. 

While some may try to discount the effectiveness or usefulness of copper by pointing out the time it takes for copper to destroy COVID-19, four hours is incredibly quick compared to other surfaces like plastic and stainless steel. Copper is certainly not a cure-all solution and the effects are not instantaneous, but, compared to other options, it works without supervision or inference and certainly has a role to play in minimizing the spread of viruses and bacteria. 

While copper can help you reduce exposure to the coronavirus and reduce the risk of cross contamination, it is important to remember there are other ways to effectively protect yourself from the virus. Necessary precautions and preventive measures like social distancing, hand washing, not touching your face, wearing a mask, avoiding contact with people who are sick and self-isolating are all effective ways to prevent contracting the virus. 

For a full discussion of the research on copper's antimicrobial properties and the role that copper can play in helping fight COVID-19, see our detailed blog post on copper and coronavirus.

How to Use Copper Gloves 

How you use your copper gloves depends on the issue you are wanting to treat. Typically, you should wear the gloves for at least 8 hours each day or while sleeping. However, copper gloves can be worn all day if you find that doing so relieves or lessens your symptoms. Copper gloves can be used to treat a variety of symptoms, all of which were discussed above. 

   Work out safely at your public gym with copper gloves

If you do not have any of the symptoms or conditions outlined in this article, copper gloves could still benefit your everyday life. For example, there are many hobbies and activities that require repetitive hand motions such as needlepoint, knitting, crocheting, gardening, golfing or working on engines or machines. Wearing copper gloves during these activities can provide instant support and can even reduce instances of cramps or soreness. 

Copper gloves can also be used at the gym and when working out. Compression garments can be worn during and up to 48 hours after exercise. Wearing copper compression gloves can help with muscle soreness and joint pain, which results in faster recovery time. Copper compression gloves are said to also increase performance and decrease fatigue.

During the pandemic, copper gloves can be especially beneficial if working out in a public gym as the antimicrobial nature of the copper in the gloves can protect you against viruses or bacteria lingering on gym equipment or weights. Additionally, if the copper gloves you are using have silicone or rubber grips, they can make grasping weights and machines even easier.     

How to Care for Copper Gloves 

Copper gloves require slightly more care than regular gloves or garments but are not overly difficult to take care of. In order to protect the copper content in your gloves, you will likely need to machine wash cold or by hand and leave to air dry. Furthermore, you may want to use less harsh detergents or soaps when washing to avoid unwanted chemical reactions between the detergent and the copper.

Washing too frequently can also contribute to a reduction in copper content so be sure to wash only when necessary. Any bacteria, viruses or odors on the gloves should generally be mitigated automatically due to the antimicrobial and odor-fighting properties of the copper in the gloves, although you should still wash them every now and then.

Things to Keep in Mind When Buying Copper Gloves

When in the market for copper gloves, the most important thing to keep in mind is the copper content infused in the gloves. The higher the copper content and the higher quality the copper, the better. Current copper gloves on the market tend to be blends of copper and nylon, spandex or zinc. Copper percentages can range between 56% and 88%. 

Another thing to keep in mind when buying copper gloves is sizing. Be sure to read the size guides for each brand or kind of copper glove. Also, try to read reviews about the sizing in case the size charts are inaccurate. You want to make sure your gloves fit properly. If they are too tight, you may suffer from too much compression, which could cut off your circulation. If they are too loose, the benefits of compression will not be realized. Additionally, some gloves have built-in non-slip silicone grips that line the palm and fingers. These grips can improve the use of your hand and strengthen your grip if you suffer from weak hands. 

Furthermore, when purchasing copper gloves you have the option to buy finger-less gloves or traditional gloves with full-finger coverage. There are benefits and disadvantages to both kinds. Finger-less gloves are a great option for when you want to use your gloves throughout the day. This design allows you to easily use smartphones or tablets during the day, while gloves with full-finger coverage are not compatible with touchscreens. You may also find that you write or type better with finger-less gloves which will help you get your work done during the day. 

Full-finger gloves are a great option if you plan to wear your gloves at night. In addition, when you are not using your hands during your sleep, the gloves can work without causing you any trouble. Full-finger gloves are also more beneficial to you if you suffer from cold hands; this way the gloves can hold in more heat to warm your fingers. Full finger gloves also have the advantage of providing full hand protection against viruses and bacteria.

In sum, finger-less copper gloves and full-finger copper gloves have their benefits and disadvantages. You may have to try different kinds of gloves to find the right pair for you, but be patient and you will find the pair that is most suited to your lifestyle and needs.

Dangers of Copper Gloves

There are a few conditions or instances where wearing copper compression gloves can actually worsen your well being or cause harm. For example, if you have dysfunctional arteries, the compression can limit blood flow rather than improve it. Compression gloves can also worsen nerve dysfunction and lead to a greater risk of injury. Furthermore, some wounds or injuries may persist for longer than they should when copper compression gloves are used. This is because by covering the wound with restrictive material you are potentially preventing or delaying it from healing properly.

If you are experiencing any of these conditions or problems, be sure to speak with your health care professional before trying copper infused gloves to treat your hand pain and related problems. 

Conclusion

When it comes to copper, we agree with the words of Michael G. Schmidt, a Medical University of South Carolina professor of microbiology and immunology: “Copper is truly a gift from Mother Nature.” For hundreds of years, we have been benefiting from the helpful effects of copper without even realizing it; from copper pipes carrying our water to copper surfaces in public places. Now that the benefits of copper are more well known, we can use copper in specific ways to help support and benefit our health and well being. 

By wearing copper gloves and garments we can encourage better blood and oxygen flow, reduce inflammation and lessen pain and stiffness. Copper gloves can be a great treatment option if you have found that painkillers or traditional therapeutic methods have offered you no relief. In addition, copper gloves can be utilized in the fight against the coronavirus due to the antimicrobial properties of copper. Be sure to research which type of glove works best for you and make sure to  contact a health care professional if you have any health conditions that may impact any decision you make to start using copper gloves.

You can buy a great pair of copper compression gloves here.

About the Authors: This article was collaboratively written by our team of researchers and writers with the benefit of all available scientific studies and other relevant literature. Our team of researchers and writers include experienced health researchers. Please note that information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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