A facial mask is an absorbent cloth mask designed of common fabrics, such as cotton, usually topped with plastic button, worn over either the nose and mouth or on the cheeks to remove excess oil and dirt. While most face masks can be washed, many cannot. If face masks are worn for a long period (over six months) it is recommended that they be prewashed and maintained by hand in mild detergent and hot water. When physically impossible, and if other more effective masks aren’t readily available, cloth facial masks can also be sterilized by dabbing on a piece of sterilized medical rubber. Before using a face mask for the first time, read the instructions carefully to make sure that you are ready for the process.
Most cloth facial masks have a sponge-like bottom, a slotted opening for wiping, and a cover to keep the particles from entering the nose and mouth. The n95 variety of surgical masks has an open channeled bottom, which makes it more convenient for wiping. In the latter case, however, a small hole is cut in the top so that air can flow through the mask. These masks are more expensive than their cotton/nosecone counterparts but also offer greater protection.
Since they only partially cover the nose and mouth, air movement is limited while still reducing facial surface moisture. Face masks with no transmission are commonly used and offer excellent results in terms of reducing sweat and steam build-up. High-end surgical face masks with a full transmission are often used by surgeons to carry out complicated facial procedures and can be worn over long periods. Face masks like this usually feature a nose drip trimmer, and some even include a ventilation openings for carrying oxygen.
High-end surgical facemasks have a much higher level of transmission than their lower-cost relatives but suffer from high-cost as well. These devices can reduce sweat and steam build-up considerably and thus improve wearer comfort. Face masks with a full transmission are best suited for persons engaged in strenuous activities such as athletes. For persons engaged in Pandemic or other airborne infections, wearing a face shield can greatly reduce risks. However, a face shield will also greatly increase the wearer’s risk of developing a more advanced form of infection such as influenza, measles, or mumps.
While some people may consider cloth masks (i.e., face shields, nose clips, etc.) unworthy of mention, since they do nothing to help in the fight against bacteria and virus, others may prefer them because they feel that cloth provides a barrier that allows only a few pollutants to enter the nose while the rest of the air is passed unobstructed. The truth is that, as far as barrier ability, cloth is just as effective as plastic, glass, or metal. Some studies have shown that, despite increased bacterial pressure and entry, mucus clings to the skin are more easily cleaned compared to mucous membranes. This makes sense since all biological agents that cause disease have an easy way to enter the nose through the nasal passages.
Some people also wear face masks as a means of “cleaning” their face. This may sound odd but some people who regularly go to swimming pools (or hot tubs) find that their face feels very clean when they shower after swimming. This may be due to the chlorine, which builds up in the hair, skin, and eyes after exposure to pools for an extended period of time. If you have a preference to not wear face masks when swimming and still want your face to feel clean, then you may wish to try aloe vera gel. It has been proven to have anti-bacterial properties.