The Origin of Scrubs

Today any medical uniform consisting of short-sleeved shirts and drawstring pants is called a scrub. The uniform acquired its name because of the fact it was initially worn by medical personnel in the scrubbed environment. Before scrubs came into the picture, surgeons performed surgeries in their street clothes with an apron or cover on them in order to keep their clothes clean. It was during the year 1918 when a flu pandemic struck and the doctors started wearing masks – more for their own protection rather than their patient’s protection from infection.

Medical scrubs, however, first came to be used in the 1940s as medical professionals became more aware of the risks of wound infections. This was also the time that the need for having separate sanitary operating rooms was felt more intensely than before! In fact, by this time, the antiseptic technique was regularly deployed in operation suites to prevent the spread of pathogens and infections.

The Evolution of Scrubs

These scrubs initially were available in the form of gowns or drapes that covered the medical surgeon, while they were performing surgeries. In the 1950s and 1960s, they were used regularly in operating rooms. It was during this time that they were crafted from white fabric, which displayed cleanliness. However, with the passage of time white gave way to the blues, greens, and pinks. Why? You may ask! It’s because of the white color against the bright light started straining the medical staff’s eyes.

By the 1970s green surgical scrubs almost became a standard and became the basis of the modern non-surgical scrubs that are donned by healthcare staff in the hospitals. Today, the majority of medical staff are required to wear medical scrubs whenever they are rendering services in a clean environment. The hospitals generally end up leasing or owning surgical scrubs because of sterility issues. Both women and men’s scrubs are crafted from durable fabric that absorbs bodily fluids and blood with equal ease.

Today, both men and women’s scrubs come in a variety of styles, fits and colors ranging from short-sleeve shirts, V-necks, wrap tops etc. Pants are largely drawstring pants for comfort. These scrubs also include gowns and jackets. Physicians often wear their own clothes with a white lab coat if they are not performing surgeries or any other procedure including blood or other bodily fluids.  But for Nurses and other support staff, scrubs has become a standard uniform.

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