Why are medical professionals clothes called scrubs

Have you ever wondered why medical professional’s wear lab suits or lab coats but refer to them as scrubs? This peculiar term which has no relation literally to the uniform donned by doctors and nurses has a history dating back decades to the 1900’s when the attire was referred to as ‘surgical greens’ as green was regarded as the most effective colour. Patients associated green with life, nature, and peacefulness and it was considered as a colour which calmed the senses. Thus, before long, green scrub tops and pants were accepted as a medical industry requirement and were referred to as ‘surgical greens’ by many in and out of the field.

The term ‘scrub’ came into usage much later on in the 20th century as there was a complete paradigm shift in the healthcare industry. Scrubs received their denotation from the environment in which they were popularly worn in surgical theatres and operation theatres which were ‘scrubbed clean’ in order to ensure a sterile and safe environment. The scrub uniform symbolises a hygienic attire which serves multiple purposes. Thus, the traditional lab suit has in some cases become obsolete and replaced with scrubs which are more comfortable for long hours of work and provide an ease of movement which the previous uniform somewhat lacked.

Scrubs were popularised in the twentieth century by doctors and nurses and soon became the accepted attire for medical professionals worldwide. Before the invention of scrubs, aprons were used by the medical sector which shielded clothes during surgery but did not provide adequate protection from contaminants. Scrubs are designed to be simple in design leaving no crevices for contaminants to hide and are made for the purpose of protecting the wearer from coming into contact with any kind of infectious agents.

In contrast to the uniforms which have always been required by nursessurgeons did not wear any kind of specialised garments until much into the 20th century. Although surgical procedures were conducted in an operating theatre, the surgeon wore their own clothes, with an apron to protect their clothing from blood stains, and they operated without gloves with non-sterile instruments and supplies.

This is in stark contrast to the present concept of surgery as a profession which greatly emphasises cleanliness and conscientiousness.  In the early 20th century, the mark of a busy and successful surgeon was the profusion of blood and fluids on their clothes. The importance of dress as a badge of one’s class in a hierarchical society was paramount and the processes behind the transmission of infection were the subject of controversy within the profession and were considered to be farce in the majority of public opinion. In fact, it was only during the influenza outbreak of the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 that the medical profession began to wear rubber gloves to protect one from the rapid contamination spread by patients.

By the late 20th century, surgical attire had largely progressed to its current modern state which includes a short-sleeved V-necked shirt and drawstring pants or a short-sleeve calf-length dress, made of a cotton or cotton-polyester blend. A tie-back or bouffant-style cloth cap, a gauze or synthetic textile mask, a cloth or synthetic surgical gown, latex gloves, and supportive closed-toe shoes often referred to as ‘nurse shoes’ are also worn by many doctors and nurses. This uniform was originally known as ‘surgical greens’ because of its colour but came to be called ‘scrubs’ because it was worn in a ‘scrubbed’ and sterile environment.

Before embarking to buy a scrub or lab coat online there are certain factors to be kept in mind to ensure durability is not compromised for cost-effectiveness. Fabric is the foremost factor that should be considered as the scrub or lab suits have to be worn for long hours and thus, must be comfortable while also providing a range of movement to the wearer. Browse through Vini’s range of medical scrubs online which can be easily customised for every body type and available in a range of colours and fabrics along with customisations like pockets, zippers and more!

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