What Is a Finger Cot?

How to Properly Use a "Finger Condom"

A finger cot, also known as a finger condom or finger glove, is a flexible tube-like cap that covers a finger. Finger cots are used to keep finger wounds dry but can also be used for safer sex when fingering a partner or performing an anal massage.

Finger cots can be purchased online, in drugstores, and at big box retailers like Walmart. They are typically made of latex but are also available in nitrile for people who have a latex allergy. You can also make them by cutting a finger off a latex or nitrile glove.

Learn how finger cots are used for safer sex, including some of the pros and cons of their use. The article also includes step-by-step instructions on how to use finger cots to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Someone putting on a finger cot on their partner’s finger
hphimagelibrary / Getty Images

Why Use a Finger Cot?

A finger cot can be an effective form of barrier protection against STIs, much in the same way as an external (male) condom, internal (female) condom, or dental dam.

Although the skin of a finger is less porous than the mucus membranes of the vagina, anus, or penis, it is still vulnerable to STIs that can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, such as:

When used for sex, finger cots are primarily used for fingering. This is when you use one or more fingers to stimulate a partner's vagina or anus. This includes massaging a partner's prostate gland, which can be sexually stimulating.

Finger cots can be worn on one or more fingers and immediately disposed of once you have finished fingering your partner. By disposing of the cot immediately, you reduce the risk of passing the infection from the genitals or anus to other parts of the body.

One example is gonococcal conjunctivitis, an eye infection caused when gonorrhea is passed by touching the genitals and then the eyes.

Finger cots can also be stretched over smaller sex toys or vibrators to prevent fomite infection (the transmission of an STI via an object).

Pros of Finger Cots

One of the advantages of a finger cot is it leaves the rest of the hand exposed and, by doing so, increases the tactile sensations of both partners. This is important because people who wear gloves during sex will often complain about the loss of sensitivity in their hands. At the same time, some partners do not like the feel of latex or rubber against their skin.

Another advantage is cost. Many retailers sell 144-count packs of latex finger cots for under $8. By comparison, a 10-count box of latex condoms can run in the ballpark of $15 to $20.

Similarly, a six-count box of polyurethane condoms (used for people with latex allergies) costs roughly $12, while a 144-count box of nitrile finger cots costs roughly the same.

Finger cots can also be used as a bandage when needed. For instance, if you have rough skin or a burr on your fingernail, a finger cot can help smooth things over and reduce the risk of scratches.

If you have a cut, a cot can prevent blood from getting into your partner's vagina or anus or, alternately, protect your finger from exposure to bodily fluids.

Cons of Finger Cots

Finger cots are a less common form of barrier protection, mainly because people don't generally engage in fingering as their sole form of sex.

For most people, gloves are easier to use. They cover all of the hand and, if sized correctly, fit like a second skin. With gloves, you don't have to think as much about exposed skin during sex.

Another downside is that finger cots are small and easy to lose during sex. This is not a major concern if comes off in the vagina as it can usually be fished out. It can be a problem with the rectum as cots sometimes get lost and need a healthcare provider to remove them if they don't come out during a bowel movement.

Slippage is especially common with nitrile finger cots, which don't fit as snugly as latex cots.

Finger cots also have to be rolled down over the finger in a specific direction. If you try to roll it down in the wrong direction, it can tear.

  • Finger cots increase tactile sensitivity by covering only one finger.

  • Finger cots are inexpensive.

  • Nitrile cots are available for those with latex allergies.

  • Finger cots can cover cuts, burrs, or rough skin.

  • Finger cots can cover smaller sex toys and vibrators.

  • For most people, gloves are more convenient and easier to use.

  • Finger cots can slip off during sex into the vagina or rectum.

  • Nitrile cots are especially vulnerable to slippage.

  • Like a condom, a finger cot can tear if rolled down incorrectly.

How to Use a Finger Cot

Unlike condoms, finger cots are not individually wrapped but are sold in a dispenser box with anywhere from 36 to 300 cots per box.

The instructions for their use are similar to those used for condoms, including:

  1. Before applying the cot, trim and file your fingernail so that it won't rip the latex. The skin should also be dry and not covered with lubricant to reduce the risk of slippage.
  2. Each finger cot looks like a rolled-up beanie. To apply the cot, place it on your finger with the rolled rim exposed. (If the rim is tucked under, you're putting it on the wrong way.)
  3. Roll the cot all the way down toward the base of the finger. Smooth out any air pockets and check that there are no rips or holes. If there are, throw the cot away and use another one.
  4. Use a lubricant to reduce friction and the risk of breakage. If the finger cot is made of latex, use only water-based or silicone-based lubes. Oil-based lubes can degrade latex and increase the risk of breakage.
  5. After use, remove the finger cot and dispose of it in a wastebasket (and not the toilet). Wash your hands with warm water and soap.

Never place a finger cot in the vagina if it was previously used on the anus or rectum. Finger cots should be immediately disposed of once used.

Finger cots can be safely stored at room temperature but are damaged by excessive heat or direct sun exposure. Keep them in a cool, dry cabinet or drawer.

If the cots have expired, look damaged or discolored, or smell funny, throw them away.


Finger cots are commonly used to keep a finger wound dry but can also be used as a form of barrier protection during sex. The latex or nitrile "finger condom" is rolled down over a finger for use in sexual fingering or prostate massage.

While inexpensive, finger cots can sometimes slip off into the vagina or rectum during sex. If not rolled on correctly, they can tear. Proper technique and practice can ensure you reap the most benefit from this form of barrier protection.

A Word From Verywell

Whether you used finger cots or not, fingering is generally considered to be a low-risk sexual activity. This doesn't mean that there is no risk, particularly if you have multiple sex partners and other risk factors for STIs.

Today, over 24 million people in the United States are thought to have HPV, while over 500,000 new genital herpes infections are thought to occur each and every year. Both of these STIs are readily passed through skin-to-skin contact.

Finger cots may not be the tool that helps you avoid these widespread STIs, but they can be part of a holistic STI prevention strategy if you are at high risk for infection.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. De Vries HJC. Skin as an indicator for sexually transmitted infections. Clin Dermatol. 2014 Mar-Apr;32(2):196-208. doi:10.1016/j.clindermatol.2013.08.003

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevalence of HPV in adults aged 18–69: United States, 2011–2014.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Genital herpes - CDC detailed fact sheet.

Additional Reading

By Elizabeth Boskey, PhD
Elizabeth Boskey, PhD, MPH, CHES, is a social worker, adjunct lecturer, and expert writer in the field of sexually transmitted diseases.