The Truth About Face Masks
Face masks are protective gear worn on the face to help limit the spread of airborne diseases, and you’ve probably seen or heard a lot about them during the current global health crisis. The increasing use of masks during this Covid-19 pandemic is down to the distinct protection they offer against exposure to airborne viruses, as various scientific studies have shown.
The primary purpose of wearing face masks is to prevent microbes discharged from a cough or sneeze of a person from infecting another person. This ultimately decreases the degree to which a person can transmit bacteria or viruses.
Who Needs a Face Mask?
A lot has been published about the use of face masks in this ongoing coronavirus crisis. There is also a debate about who needs a face mask, but what we know is that face masks don’t hurt. There are no confirmed health risks associated with the use of face masks as long as you observe sanitation guidelines correctly.
Face masks could be particularly useful in crowded places and public transportation to protect you from inhaling people’s coughs. It’s not always required for everybody to wear face masks. However, they are recommended to be used if:
– The government stipulates it.
In most countries of the world, the government has made it compulsory for citizens to go out with their face masks to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus.
– It’s prescribed for you by a medical expert.
If, for one reason or another, your doctor recommends a facemask for you, then you should get one.
– You work in a hospital or healthcare center, caring for the sick. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals must wear facemasks when carrying out their essential duties to protect themselves from contracting any respiratory-related illnesses.
– You’re around ill patients. Whether you are medical personnel or not, if you are living with a sick person this period, you need a facemask
– You develop respiratory disease or other symptoms. If you notice yourself developing symptoms of any respiratory illness, then you should get a facemask.
Main Benefits of Wearing Face Masks
Face masks can help protect you from being infected with a virus when in contact with an already infected person. It can also help prevent you from transmitting your diseases to others. That’s why doctors, nurses, and other health professionals, who work around sick patients, make wearing face mask a common practice.
Another essential advantage of this protective material is that it can help reduce hand-to-mouth microbial transmissions by preventing people from touching their mouths or nostrils while wearing it.
Physical distancing may not be an effective means of curbing viral transmissions. For one, doctors and nurses can’t keep a distance apart from their patients, and what’s more, the so-called “2-metre” apart guideline is based on 20th-century studies. More recent researches show that droplets of the coronavirus, for example, could be transmitted up to 6 meters away. Face masks provide an alternative solution to distancing in such situations.
It must also be emphasized that face masks have been shown to significantly reduce the chances of having seasonal flu. This is because the wearing of masks reduces by over 200% the number of nasal discharges by people into the surroundings.
Types of face masks
There are three major types of face masks, and they are;
1.Homemade cloth face mask
These kinds of masks are made using regular household fabric. They prevent patients who are without symptoms from transmitting any respiratory disease they might have. Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, there has been a massive rush for the purchase of facemasks, thereby causing a huge gap between demand and supply. Most of these facemasks are being reserved for healthcare personnel and rightly so. However, the homemade cloth facemasks have served as a viable alternative for the mass of people who don’t have access to factory-produced facemasks. The beautiful thing about these facemasks is that they are homemade, and therefore, they are in constant supply. They should, however, be washed thoroughly with hot water after every use.
These kinds of masks are traditionally reserved for health workers who are most vulnerable to contracting respiratory illnesses. They protect the user from up to 95 percent of external nasal viruses and bacteria by filtering out nasal droplets.
3.Surgical or Disposable face masks
This is the most widely used facemasks by all standards. Doctors and surgeons use these facemasks when operating on patients, and people also use it to protect themselves against external viruses and bacteria.
Originally, a Disposable facemask is meant to be used by healthcare personnel during surgical procedures. However, with the advent of different nasal and respiratory diseases, people from all professions now use it to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses.
Manufactured disposable masks are made of three layers: the anti-dust layer, the anti-pollution area, and the skin-friendly area. Altogether, this makes the disposable mask capable of preventing droplets containing germs from escaping through your mouth or nose and infecting someone else. It also prevents other people’s microbes from infecting you.
A good disposable face mask should have the following features.
- It should be comfortable. Disposable facemasks are meant to be worn for a considerable amount of time; therefore, they should not be manufactured in such a way that will affect your skin. It should be loose fitting around the face and ears.
- It should allow breathing. Facemasks don’t come with built-in oxygen tanks, so it should be designed in such a way that allows you to breathe and still protects you from germs and bacteria at the same time.
- It should be fireproof. The disposable facemask should be fireproof, so they don’t catch fire under typical fires.
These masks are called disposable; unlike the homemade cloth face masks, they are designed to be worn only once, after which they must be thrown away. It is not hygienic to wash disposable facemasks.
So essentially, what you need to note about your Disposable Face masks are;
- Ideally, disposable surgical face masks are supposed to be worn once. The use of surgical face masks for multiple times isn’t advisable and can be counter-productive.
- You shouldn’t wear a disposable surgical face mask if it doesn’t fit perfectly or if it is uncomfortable. You should be able to use your face mask for an extended period of time.
- Your disposable face mask isn’t supposed to be washed after usage. If you intend to wash your face mask after usage, you should buy a washable face mask.
- Store the disposable surgical face mask in a moist-free and well-ventilated place. It should be kept away from fire, water, or anything that can damage it.
Main Differences Between N95 Respirators and Ordinary Face Masks
Now that you know about face masks and why you may need them, can you distinguish between face masks and N95 respirators? Let’s look into some of their differences.
Face masks are similar to respirators, being protective gears worn around the face to prevent airborne particles from entering the nasal and oral orifices. However, respirators are somewhat designed and fitted to block out smaller airborne particles like aerosols. The name N95 is derived from its effectiveness in blocking more than 95% of tiny airborne particles.
Also, N95 respirators can be much more difficult to fit around the face correctly, especially for untrained, non-medical people. Moreover, when fitted properly, they often get stuffy and hot, prompting people to remove them outrightly.
4 Essential Features of a Good Face Mask
Fabric: Quality face masks have at least an extra layer of tightly knitted cotton fabric in the design. Always look for a high-thread-count in your mask. This helps to filter and block respiratory aerosols while still allowing you to respire comfortably.
Sew or no-sew Options: Either of these two options is fine to use when it’s made properly. Do what’s affordable and reasonable to you. Go with the non-sew type when in a hurry. You can as well make your masks at home if you’re crafty and have the time. If you’re a medical practitioner, however, you need masks that offer more excellent protection against airborne diseases. In such a case, you may order quality medical face masks locally or online. Select brands recommended by reliable health authorities such as the CDC. Another good option is to browse online for good recommendations.
Filter & Fit: Some masks have spaces for a filter that offers an added layer of protection. It’s recommended by the CDC to ensure your mask has an extra layer of coffee filters. The filter should be dense enough to prevent tiny airborne particles from entering your nasal orifice, while you’re still able to breathe easily.
Since you need to breathe with ease when wearing your face mask, you need to select one that has a snug fit around your face. It becomes useless when there are spaces in it that allow unfiltered air in. If you don’t feel comfortable wearing a face mask, however, don’t use it. You can discuss with your physician about alternative face protection gears.
Ease of Use: A face mask is only as effective as how you use it. Once you find a mask, make sure it’s one you can easily wear or untie from your face without it being contaminated by touching the front part. Plan your itinerary knowing that you can’t just slip the face mask on and off carelessly in public places. At the same time, don’t forget always to keep a safe distance from others in crowded places.
Go for the Best Face Masks!
As explained earlier, respirators are designed for medical professionals working around sick patients, with a high risk of exposure to airborne diseases, and such protective gears must be worn properly for the maximum benefits.
In theory, N95 offers better protection against airborne diseases than ordinary masks because masks are made to rather block airborne particles larger than tiny aerosols. However, both have their own benefits. The bottom line is that surgical face masks will usually suffice, in most cases, as long as other health measures are strictly observed. The emphasis is on basic hygiene: clean hands always.
One more thing, if you want to purchase a good face mask, make sure you select a quality design that will give you value for your money. Check the labels carefully and choose masks designed by reputable suppliers. Remember that the government doesn’t always regulate medical face masks and what is used as its filtration materials. That means anybody can sell anything labeled as a mask, even when it’s useless.
Purchasing your mask from a trusted supplier is essential, and so is verifying a product’s credentials. Look for trademark and certification marks. If a face mask is so certified, this shows that it conforms with public health and safety standards.
Tips to Wear Your Face Mask Properly
A face mask can only help you block out microbes when it’s worn correctly and regularly. Be aware of safety tips for proper wearing of face masks so that your efforts won’t be in vain:
– Always put on your face mask when you’re within a 6-feet radius of a sick person.
– Wear your face mask firmly around your chin, nose, and mouth by fitting its strings correctly.
– Once worn, strictly avoid touching your mask unnecessarily unless it’s time to remove it.
– Wear your mask while coming near other persons if you’re infected. For instance, if you need to seek medical help, wear the mask in the waiting room to protect others.
– Endeavor to wear your face mask in public places during an epidemic to protect yourself and your loved ones from catching the bug. Consider wearing the mask if you think you have a high risk of being infected.
– When you’ve used a mask, throw it away in the dust bin to be disposed of properly. Never use a face mask twice.
As useful as masks are, wearing it doesn’t guarantee you safety from infections- essential health and hygienic practices are still necessary most times. Cleaning surfaces and washing your hands effectively and regularly with hand sanitizers is very crucial to prevent the transmission of diseases.
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