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Face Mask Basics

Face masks have been used for ages to soothe and clean the skin. Face masks have also been used to alleviate symptoms associated with serious ailments such as colds and the flu. There has, however, been an increase in interest in face masks among men and women alike, with their popularity increasing in recent years.

A face mask, also known as a nasal mask, is a soft, flexible mask placed over the nose and mouth, designed to ease irritation and to aid in breathing. Soft cloth masks may be used to clean up the sinuses, but a face mask is designed to alleviate more serious symptoms. In particular, a nasal mask can help to alleviate the discomfort that comes with congestion brought about by mucus from the lungs. While effective, other nasal masks available may be less effective. And when physical distancing isn’t possible, or if fewer effective masks are available, a cloth face mask may be worn.

There are several different kinds of face masks to choose from. The first two are snorkel or nebulizer devices, which attach to the outside of a nostril and allow for easy, continuous air flow into the nose. These devices must, however, be regularly maintained to prevent disruption of the natural airflow. Continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) is another kind of face mask. Using this technology, a physician provides a stream of compressed air to force back and force out particles and mucus in the nose.

There are also disposable face masks available. These are similar to the nebulizer devices but are often smaller, often made from vinyl. In addition to removing excess moisture, disposable face masks may also help remove contaminants like dust, dirt, allergens and bacteria. As with nebulizers, these devices need to be routinely maintained to keep them operating at optimal performance.

While face masks can be used for all kinds of social distancing, they are most commonly utilized by patients suffering from sinus, ear, or throat conditions, or those who have allergies, constant headaches, or post-nasal drip. For these individuals, it’s best to use a completely clean, fresh face mask every time they attend a social event. Clean masks should be free of any foreign material or bacteria, as dust, dirt, and bacteria are some of the leading causes of allergic reactions. For patients with chronic conditions or infections, it may be necessary to periodically change the mask or clean it thoroughly.

There are three basic design types of face masks. The first has a single, closed-cell foam layer. The second has multiple layers of closed-cell foam glued to a sturdy cardboard backing. The third has cloth mesh fabric layered between multiple layers of foam. Multiple layers of foam to allow for a higher level of comfort, but also provide better ventilation than single-layered designs.

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