A Complete Guide To Medical Attire


Medical clothes play an important role in the protection of medical staff as they go about their daily business of saving lives. Over the years, it has evolved from white robs to simple, comfortable shirts and pants. 

If you’re part of the medical profession or are simply interested in medical clothing, this article will give you the full details in this comprehensive guide to medical attire.  

What Is Medical Clothing? 

Medical attire refers to the uniforms worn by personnel in the medical field. It’s also commonly known as medical scrubs. Scrubs are sanitary clothes used by nurses, doctors, and many other hospital staff involved in healthcare.  

Put simply, medical attire consists of medical clothes such as shirts, pants, gowns, and scrub caps (the full details of which can be found online). 

Nurses traditionally wore attires that typify religious gowns. However, these evolved into white dresses and, eventually, nursing scrubs consisting of pants and shirts. 

On the other hand, doctors didn’t require any uniforms until much later into the 20th century. After the Spanish flu pandemic, there was an increased need for protective and sterile clothing in health facilities. This led to the introduction of medical scrubs for doctors.  

Doctors’ medical scrubs have evolved from mere aprons to white lab coats, and then to the simple short-sleeve V-neck shirts and drawstring pants that you may be well familiar with these days.  

Nowadays, medical attire is more or less the same, from nursing staff, to doctors and surgeons. The only differences are, perhaps, the color-coding representing the different departments and workstations.   

What Is Medical Attire Made Of? 

Medical clothes are typically made of cotton and polyester. Medical attire is designed to give maximum comfort and protection to medical staff as they perform their duties in medical facilities. It’s also designed to be simple, as well as easy to wear and remove.   

The materials used in medical attire is also usually easy to replace when stained or damaged. It could also be washed at very high temperatures when being sterilized.   

Types Of Medical Attire  

There’re different types of medical attire, including the following: 

  1. Medical Scrubs

Scrubs are the sterile clothes worn by doctors, surgeons, physicians, nurses, and other healthcare workers, especially those who interact with patients. The term scrubs has, however, been generally used to mean most medical clothes. 

There’re many different types of scrubs, including the following:

  • Surgical scrubs – These include a shirt, pants, and a gown, typically worn during surgery.  
  • Nursing scrubs – These are uniforms worn by nursing staff—they’re nothing like the white dresses used in the 1950s. Nurses now wear scrubs almost similar to those worn by doctors.  
  • Maternity scrubs – These are the clothes worn by expecting mothers when they enter the delivery room. They’re designed to allow for easy delivery of babies.  
  • Patient scrubs – Patients in most healthcare facilities are also required to wear scrubs. These make it easier to manage them, and they also provide comfort.   
  1. Lab Coats

Lab coats are typically white knee-length coats, also referred to as lab coats. They’re smocks worn by medical personnel, or laboratory technician and scientists. The coats are mostly used to protect clothes from stains resulting from spills and splashes. They also serve as uniforms in some healthcare facilities. 

Lab coats are designed to give maximum protection to the skin from hazardous substances when medical lab technicians or other staff are working. They’re loose-fitting and usually have deep pockets. Some health facilities have, however, stopped wearing lab coats, choosing instead to wear simple scrubs.

  1. Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment is special equipment worn by healthcare professionals to provide a safe barrier against germs. PPEs are believed to significantly reduces the chances of exposure to bacteria and germs.

Examples of PPE include aprons, gloves, surgical masks, goggles, gowns, shoe covers, face visors, and respirator masks. In the wake of a pandemic, such as the COVID-19, PPE is now a common feature in medical attire. If it’s used correctly, PPE prevents infectious viruses and bacteria from contaminating your body.

  1. Footwear

The medical arena can be hectic, to say the least. Healthcare workers always have to be on their feet–– no pun intended. They have to walk or run to different workstations to attend to various levels of emergencies. It would be no surprise to note that they do kilometers in a day, if one were to sum up the distances they cover. 

The job requirements for most medical workers could take a toll on the body if you don’t have the right footwear. Luckily, there are many types of shoes available to provide comfort and cushioning for medical personnel. These include trainers, crocs, clogs, and safety shoes. 

Depending on the station, medical staff have to select shoes that give protection and comfort. If one is working in the lab, for example, they’d need chemical-resistant covered shoes. Simple crocs, on the other hand, would work well in the pediatric ward.  

  1. Head Wear

In addition to medical scrubs, many other types of medical attire are used in different medical settings, including headgear. There are different types of headgear to provide protection from germs and droplets. Headgear also prevents the spreading of germs to patients through falling hair and the like. 

Types of headgear include:

  •  Mob caps
  • Theatre caps
  • Operating caps
  • Nurses’ caps
  • Surgeons’ hoods

How Is Medical Attire Different From Regular Clothes? 

Medical attire is designed to be much more robust, yet cheaper than regular clothing. Also, medical attire typically fits loosely on your body to allow for maximum comfort and aeration to minimize sweating.  

Most medical clothing is sterile, especially the attire worn by surgical staff. Scrubs worn in laboratories are usually chemical and fire-proof to provide protection while in the lab.  


Medical attire is more than just uniforms and identity. The clothes worn by health personnel are an important part of healthcare provision. They provide protection from the spread of infections, both from patients and health care providers. Medical clothes are designed to give comfort and utility value to those busy with the job of saving lives. They should never be taken for granted.

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