What is a face mask? Simply put, it is a headpiece that is used to protect a patient’s nose, mouth and cheeks from any airborne particles. A surgical face mask, called a sterile medical face mask, is designed to be worn by medical professionals during medical procedures in order to prevent airborne transmission of diseases in patients and hence the treating physician. It is designed to be comfortable and not cumbersome and is made out of sterile material so that it facilitates quick and easy fit. Face masks come with or without a nose protector or can be used as a nasal splint for protection of the nasal cavity when breathing through the mouth. They are normally fastened around the outside of the head using straps, clips or Velcro fasteners.
The most commonly used face mask is the cloth mask since it is less cumbersome and more comfortable than plastic or latex masks. Soft plastic or latex-type face masks are good for general purposes but can easily irritate the skin, especially the eyes, causing itching, swelling and puffiness. The cloth mask is easier to wear. They are available in various colors and styles. Some are made of 100 percent medical grade materials, such as the face mask made of leather quilted vinyl with elastic inner layer. Other specialty cloth masks are made from soft polypropylene that is used for children who have breathing problems.
The cloth masks are relatively safe for all staff members provided the quality and safety standards are maintained and all staff members are trained in its use. However, they do require regular maintenance and cleaning if hygiene is to be maintained. In addition to cleaning, staff members should change the face masks regularly to ensure there are no cracks, holes or tears. These should also be replaced every six months to ensure the integrity of the face mask.
To clean the face mask just remove the bandage and wash it carefully using a mild detergent. Rinse the fabric and allow it to dry thoroughly before replacing the bandage. To remove excess water or moisture from the fabric, a wet towel is placed over the face mask for a few moments to allow the excess water to drain. It is important to wipe the fabric dry after each cleaning session to help eliminate bacteria or allergens that could enter through the tiny holes or droplets. This should be done immediately after the last use.
If the face mask becomes damaged, worn out or is simply uncomfortable to wear for any reason, replace it. A new one should cost no more than $5.00 and can be purchased online from reputable face mask wearing websites. These retailers usually offer free shipping or discounted rates when large orders are made. If the person cannot afford a new mask on their own, a good option is to make a small donation to an organization that helps ill people and purchase a cheap, reusable face mask that can then be donated to them later.
The USFDA does not regulate the production of facial care products and therefore consumers have to be careful to read the labels and warnings to ensure that they are buying a safe product. For those who suffer from allergies or sensitive skin, it is especially important to make sure the mask is free of any allergens or irritants. While many of to wear masks advertise “all natural” or “hypoallergenic”, this is not always the case. In order to be safe, consumers should always read the label and ask their doctor, pharmacist or dermatologist about the product and if possible, ask them to recommend a trusted source of a to wear masks.