A cloth face mask, also known as a nasal mask, is a thin, closed mask typically made from durable textiles, most commonly cotton, worn over either the nose and mouth or over the cheeks. Although sometimes referred to as a “sickle” face mask, since it covers only the nose, these cloths often serve to prevent wind, cold, sweat and other irritants from entering the nose. Because face masks can be disposable, they offer a cost-effective alternative to nose and ear plugs, in situations where protective gear is not required. In addition, because cloth masks are very light, they are great for use during sports and heavy lifting applications.
The function of a cloth mask is relatively simple: to prevent unwanted airflow through the nose and mouth. Obviously, if air can enter at all, this is undesirable, since it increases the risk of airway blockage and infection. However, many people make the mistake of believing that this is an easy task to perform. Unfortunately, even with simple cleanliness practices, people may still end up with an unsightly, unhealthy face mask. Therefore, while a homemade mask will likely work, it is especially important to pay attention to the materials used in the creation of these masks. Below, we have listed some of the top materials used in face mask construction, as well as a few tips on how to ensure that they are effective in their intended use.
Sterile Glass – A sterile glass sheet is typically rolled into a tube and then cut to fit into the nose, creating a clear but air-resistant face mask. These are often used in the healthcare industry to prevent the spread of infections and germs from one patient to another. However, since a sterile mask is not always practical for every application, using glass that has been previously sterilized can be an excellent alternative. Sterile glass is especially important in the healthcare industry, where the same object can potentially be used multiple times, exposing patients to the risk of infection. By sterilizing their equipment, medical professionals can ensure that the patients do not become infected in the process.
Respiratory Alters – While it may sound counterintuitive to wear respiratory alters while working in the general public, many employees do so in order to protect their own health. In the case of the respiratory alter, which is specifically designed to provide comfort and further reduce irritation caused by blocked breathing, it is common practice to leave the apparatus on at all times. Additionally, many medical professionals wear a surgical mask while working in the general public, in order to protect their own health. In the case of the respiratory alter, however, it is unlikely that a person would feel comfortable leaving the apparatus on throughout the day, due to the discomfort caused by the material and possible bacteria present on the devices.
Cloth – As mentioned previously, many medical professionals prefer to wear surgical masks made from a cloth material. However, there are numerous disadvantages to this choice. While disposable, these garments will only offer a level of comfort that plastic or vinyl-based products will not; and while they are convenient for quick clean up, they can be difficult to replace, especially if the patient has a large amount of hair.
Fabric – Though some argue that cloth medical masks provide less comfort than other types, most agree that it provides a higher level of filtration efficiency than plastic or vinyl based options. Also, these garments are more likely to be properly cleaned, preventing agents from spreading throughout the patient’s face. Though disposable, these garments can be easily changed or replaced when necessary.