When did nurses start wearing scrubs?

Q: I am a housewife and I want to make a scrub for my daughter I’d like to know when did nurses start wearing scrubs.

– Carlos Alfredo

A: The use of scrubs in healthcare settings began around the mid to late 20th century. Prior to this, nurses typically wore a uniform consisting of a dress, apron, and a cap.

The shift towards scrubs started in the operating room. In the early 20th century, surgeons simply wore their own clothes with an apron to protect against blood stains. Over time, as the understanding of germ theory and surgical asepsis (sterility) improved, surgeons began to wear white gowns known as surgical “whites” or “robes”. However, these white uniforms were found to cause eye strain in the bright operating room environment.

By the 1950s and 1960s, many surgeons started to transition to green or blue gowns to reduce eye fatigue. These gowns were the precursors to modern surgical scrubs. The term “scrubs” comes from the fact that these garments were worn in a “scrubbed” or sterile environment.

By the 1970s and 1980s, the use of scrubs had expanded beyond the operating room. Nurses and other healthcare professionals began to wear scrubs because they were comfortable, easy to clean, and provided a simple way to identify healthcare staff. They were also seen as more modern and practical than traditional nursing uniforms.

Today, scrubs are the standard uniform in most healthcare settings, worn by professionals in various roles including nurses, doctors, technicians, and more. They are appreciated for their comfort, durability, ease of care, and adaptability in a wide range of healthcare environments.

Have a question about personal safety equipment, work clothes, PPE industry? Anbu Safety writer Arlen Wang will find answers to the queries. to submit a question send an email to: info@anbusafety.com

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