Face masks have been around since the earliest times, when people needed to care for their skin. Face masks were used to maintain a cool temperature, as well as to keep dirt from entering the pores of the skin. Face masks were also used during fights and when fighting was inevitable. The mask was used to protect the fighters from injury or to minimize the effects of injuries received during a fight.
A cloth face mask, often made with natural textiles, is a simple mask worn around the nose and mouth, designed to trap moisture in the face and to facilitate proper breathing through the nose and mouth. When practical masks aren’t available, or if physical distancing isn’t possible, staff members can wear face masks consisting of two layers: a top layer which are the exhalation valve; and a second layer which comprise the drainage tubing and face shield. When the topmost layer is missing, the two layers together form a simple head cover which is easily cleaned by wiping alone.
While the benefits of using disposable face masks have long been recognized, it’s still important to consider whether face mask use is necessary or advisable during certain situations. One of the situations in which disposable face masks should be discontinued is when a person is allergic to a particular material used to manufacture the face mask. A doctor may also advise against face mask to use when the patient is pregnant, nursing, or has some sort of chronic or contagious condition.
Another situation where disposable masks should be discontinued is when a person is washing their hair, since the headgear used to clean the hair and ears tends to irritate the skin. When washing one’s hair, it’s important to use a gentle soap, since irritating the skin can make the problem worse. As well, wearing a face mask that has washed with a gentle soap can be equally irritating, even if the mask has washed with a stronger solution already on it.
The third situation in which disposable face masks should be discontinued is when a person is using any type of air purifier, such as an activated carbon filter, because of how the fibers of these fabrics hold microorganisms and dyes. These microorganisms and colors are attracted to the low concentrations of oxygen that these fabrics contain. However, the fabrics also tend to hold dyes, and the coloring is washed out with the constant washing of the fabric. The best way to wash fabrics that have been dyed is to thoroughly rinse them, either with water or soap, and to then use a mild bleach solution to completely get rid of any color residue that may remain.
The fourth situation in which it is generally recommended that disposable face masks are discontinued is when the patient is going to be working with their mouth open. When the mouth is open, the patient can easily breathe in particles of dirt, debris, saliva, etc. Because the face mask can’t trap these particles, there is the potential for them to enter the nasal cavities and sinuses, which can cause significant damage and irritation to the patient’s respiratory system. In addition to the potential for entering the nasal cavities, there are also other particles that can enter the ears, which will need to be removed. Because of how easily a patient’s face can be damaged by breathing in these particles, many doctors recommend that patients not wear face masks while they are working.