Woman and man in colorful scrubs

Is There a Meaning Behind Medical Scrub Colors?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Walk into any healthcare facility, and you’re more than likely to see doctors and nurses wearing scrubs of every color of the rainbow. Watch a medical drama, and you’ll see healthcare workers wearing scrubs, too, most often green or white.

And if you’re a medical professional (you’re on this page, so chances are likely you are), you’ve probably faced the entire color wheel when shopping for new medic scrubs, especially if you have to adhere to a color-specific dress code. But what scrub colors are best for you, and which shades should you perhaps avoid?

We’ve broken down the basics into a medical scrub color chart below. We’ve also included a few things to keep in mind when searching for your next online scrubs purchase.

Scrubs colors and their meaning

The simple answer is yes. Scrubs of different colors denote different meanings that you should consider when shopping for new medical uniforms. But often, it’s not for the reasons you would expect.

The biggest reason why a healthcare professional wears a particular color is a workplace dress code. Certain facilities require their employees to wear specific shades or have a universal color for different types of nurses, as those colors can indicate their position to other healthcare professionals and the public. Color-coding systems function as an easy, effective way to know who does what, especially in a crowded, hectic setting like a hospital.

The other big reason why the color coding of your scrubs is essential? Specific colors are easier on the eyes than others, reducing visual strain. Different colors can also provoke a particular sensation or anxiety, which is the last thing you want in a healthcare setting.

Here are some major scrub color options, along with what they mean for your appearance.

White scrubs

White scrubs are more traditionally associated with medical assistants from bygone eras. Once upon a time, they denoted an idealized notion of “purity” and the sacrificial nature that came with the profession, too. 

Unlike wearing a white undershirt under your scrubs, these days, many healthcare professionals view the all-white outfit as impractical. Nurses often come into contact with bodily fluids that can stain white scrubs very easily. A white lab coat can indicate your position – such as often is the case with doctors – but otherwise, in certain situations, even one white item, a top or pair of pants, is sufficient.

However, if you want to dress in white from head to toe in medical uniforms? We probably don’t need to tell you that it’s best to rethink that option.

Black scrubs

Black is a slimming, authority-laden color. When you find that black shade on a set of scrubs, you’ll discover that it hides stains well, and it looks more sophisticated in certain situations for healthcare professionals, too.

Green scrubs

Green and teal scrubs are another scrub color with historical significance. Traditionally associated with surgeons of the past who wore green gowns when prepping for operations, green scrubs are still in style today. Overall, it’s a color that’s easy on the eye and reduces visual strain.

Pink scrubs

A gentler color that can run the gamut, from blush to mauve, pink scrubs are often associated with more soothing healthcare scenarios, making them a good choice for nurses and podiatrists who work with children in pediatric settings.

Blue scrubs

Blue is one of the most common scrub colors to go with and also the safest to buy. It’s easy on the eyes with its cool undertones, and it can hide stains relatively well. You can find blue medical scrubs in various shades, ranging from royal blue scrubs and  navy blue to ceil blue and teal.

Purple or mauve scrubs

Purple is a rich color with a cool undertone. On scrubs, it can be slimming, easy on the eyes and fashionable, especially as a scrub top. 

Nevertheless, this color can be somewhat divisive, with some considering it unprofessional and others loving it. Still, it is an excellent alternative to dark blue or navy blue scrubs in most healthcare settings.

Wine or burgundy scrubs

Burgundy sits relatively close to purple on the color scale, but unlike purple, it usually has a warmer undertone. Despite this, it’s a professional, dressy color in a dark shade that can help hide stains.

Red scrubs

While red scrubs are not the most restful on the eyes, they can be effective as a more formal set of scrubs. Essentially, you can use them to make a statement during a particular event, such as an awareness campaign for a specific issue affecting a local hospital.

Gray scrubs

Lastly, you’ll find yourself well-suited with a set of gray scrubs. Gray is a neutral color that’s easy on the eyes, and it’s also a darker shade than white, meaning it’s easier to keep clean. Gray is also less imposing than an authority-driven black, making this particular hue a true middle-ground for scrub options.

What color scrubs do doctors wear?

Woman in black scrubs

Jaanuu offers scrubs in many shades of these colors, but remember, sometimes the scrubs you wear are not dictated by your personal preferences but rather by workplace regulations and dress codes.

For example, doctors often wear navy or dark blue scrubs to denote a position of authority. This darker color can also help them set apart from their other healthcare workers, who may wear a lighter shade of the same uniform.

 

 

 

 

What color scrubs do nurses wear?

Woman with baby pink scrub

Historically, nurses’ scrubs have been white. Nevertheless, this practice has fallen out of style because of the difficulty of cleaning all-white scrubs regularly.

Nowadays, you can often find nurses wearing lighter-colored scrubs to distinguish themselves from doctors and surgeons. Light blue versus navy blue is an excellent example of this. 

Nurses also wear these lighter-colored scrubs because lighter shades can put a patient at ease and reduce anxiety. Instead of speaking to an authority figure who could possibly bring you bad news—like a doctor, for example— the nurse is there to make their patient as comfortable as possible, and their appearance can often convey this.

 

 

What color scrubs do surgeons wear?

Man in green scrubs

Surgeons also have a particular color of scrubs that they’re usually associated with. And they’re still associated with that color now. 

The shade we’re talking about? You guessed it. Green.

Green scrubs can be flattering and striking, and their hue can hide stains well. Depending on the intensity of those green scrubs, the color palette can also prevent eye strain during surgery, which is why it’s still favorable and in use at hospitals and other medical facilities.

If you want to buy a pair of colored scrubs yourself, check out Jaanuu’s full scrub selection here. Go on, pick your color!

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