I am a nurse who sees infections of some kind or other on a frequent basis. These infections are caused by microbial organisms that invade tissue through an entry or port and set up shop. Sometimes you don’t even know it until days later. These microbes are usually bacteria or fungi. They can cause a minor infection or a major one
Part of my job is getting people involved in preventive care so no infection will even have a chance to get started. Wearing gloves when you garden is a type of preventive care. They keep you from getting blisters, cuts, or punctures as you garden. They are like a second skin, so to speak. They keep your skin from coming in contact with those soil microbes that are looking for a home to settle in to and reproduce.
I can speak of a personal experience where dirt got shoved under the cuticle of my finger. A fungus infected my cuticle, and my nail discolored and became distorted. I am still trying to clear it up after several months now. Needless to say, I religiously wear gloves when I garden or use my hands at any outdoor chore. Another rather extreme example is a friend’s father who had a thorn in his hand from a rose bush. It became infected and ultimately led to hospitalization with IV antibiotics and hyperbaric therapy (high oxygen pressures aimed at the infected site to aid healing).
Why take a chance? Instead take care of your precious hands. There are many gloves to choose from for gardening. There is just no intelligent choice of doing it or not.
Susan Goins, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service