A medical face mask, sometimes called a medical air mask, is designed to be worn by healthcare professionals during certain medical procedures in order to avoid airborne transmission of bacteria and viruses in patients. This type of mask is worn to protect the nose, mouth and throat from the risks of air contamination caused by infectious agents such as dust, splashes and steam from the needles used in administering medications and other devices used in healthcare settings. Medical professionals use these masks to prevent the transmission of pathogens that could cause serious health complications. Some masks also serve a useful purpose by containing the scent of a medicine or other airborne irritants so that they are not accidentally inhaled by patients.
A common type of face mask is the disposable variety that is made up of an adhesive band and specially designed mouthpiece that is inserted into the nose. These masks are perfect for individuals who are prone to allergies or have facial hair. Because no direct contact with patient’s skin is possible, there is little or no airborne transmission of airborne bacteria or viruses. The mouthpieces used in this type of mask usually have tiny holes on their surface and droplets of medicine or other substances are contained within the droplets. The holes in the mouthpiece to allow air to pass in and out of the mouthpiece and also prevent the build up of bacteria and virus droplets within the mask.
Medications and other agents may also be infused within the plastic and silicon facedewear to achieve a different effect. The medical-grade silicone is inert, meaning it will not degrade or break down over time. As such, these types of masks can be used by healthcare workers even without wearing sterile gloves. The wearer’s nose is covered by the silicone face mask and droplets of medicine and other substances are then released through the small holes in the face mask. These droplets are nontoxic and do not contain particles of bacteria or viruses that could harm a patient.
The liquid droplets, however, need to be released from the mouthpiece. There are two types of release methods available for these liquid droplets. The first method uses an electric current to create a spray that irritates the eyes of the wearer. As these droplets reach the eye, they create a stinging sensation that draws additional fluid droplets into the eyes. While this temporary discomfort is typically found only when droplets are released from the top of the surgical masks, it can cause additional irritation and discomfort to the wearer.
The second method uses a biological agent that disperses a cloud of air irritant over the entire face. These biological aerosols can penetrate the skin of the human body and can cause allergic reactions including redness, itching, swelling and mild nausea in the general public. This aerosol is a controlled substance and is not sold over the counter. In addition to the general public, healthcare workers and paramedics who have a responsibility for using these masks are strongly recommended to carry a Covid-19 pandemic preparation kit.
The main antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties of Sars-cov-2 are known by the FDA and are listed on the US Food and Drug Administration’s website as “generally recognized as safe (GRAS)”. To date, no published studies have concluded that GRAS status for the sars-cov-2 should change. However, some healthcare workers who use these products in accordance with manufacturer directions should contact their clinician prior to using these products to discuss the possible risks of an adverse reaction with any potential medications, vitamins or supplements that the wearer may be taking. This information should be in an easy to access location and easy to read. If the wearer has questions, they should ask their clinician about these substances prior to wearing the mask.