Face masks are medical tools used during medical practices to prevent the spread of infection to patients. They are made from a variety of materials to address different purposes. Face masks that cover the nose is used for patient care while those intended for covering the mouth are intended for pre-operative and post-operative care. A disposable plastic or metal face mask is used for general patient care, whereas a disposable soft plastic or metal face mask is used during specific operations. Masks can also come in various sizes depending on the patient’s needs.
Face masks are worn to prevent the entry of airborne pathogens into the face and eyes. These are often used for post-operative and post-surgical care, as these are worn in order to protect the skin and underlying tissue from potential contamination. Face masks are also worn during standard physician visits to prevent bacterial contamination of the mouth. Face masks are often worn during surgical procedures in order to protect the surgeon from contamination. Some are designed to provide an airtight seal to prevent contaminants from entering the patient’s air.
The various types of surgical face masks include cloth face masks, neoprene, plastic, latex, and vinyl. Cloth face masks can be either worn completely over the face or some may only be attached to the nose. During procedures in which the skin of the face is exposed, either a single cloth mask is worn or two cloth masks are worn, one placed over the nose and one placed on top of the other. Wearing multiple cloth masks at once can create a sense of increased airway resistance. Plastic face masks, which are generally used during dental procedures, are either worn completely over the face or parts of it such as the nose and mouth.
Contaminants can enter the patient’s air through a number of sources including respiratory tract diseases, ingestion, and wounds to the face. Respiratory tract infections include Streptococcus pneumoniae and influenza. Gout, which is caused by crystallized uric acid deposits within the body, can also spread from wounds in the scalp and neck. Some prescription and over the counter medications, antibiotics, and nasal sprays contain ingredients that can be spread by air. While these illnesses cannot be prevented, wearing face masks while these agents are present can reduce the risk of acquiring them. Similarly, wounds acquired from eating or swallowing instruments can transmit bacteria or viruses into the patient’s air.
One of the primary reasons for wearing a face mask while undergoing medical procedures is to protect the doctor and patients from the potentially harmful effects of inhaled gases. Physicians have argued that some of the inhaled pathogens resistant to antibiotics could easily enter the patient’s body through the nose. In fact, some studies have shown that some strains of Staphylococcus aureus, responsible for antibiotic-resistant diarrhea, may cause trouble breathing or death if they are inhaled in large enough amounts.
The potential harm of inhaled bacteria is one reason why physicians often recommend the wearing of a face mask during procedures. A face mask can prevent these bacteria from entering the patient’s body through the nose or mouth. Similarly, the use of a surgical mask is recommended when a patient has a wound contaminated with bacteria. The Covid-19 pandemic face mask offers these individuals the additional protection necessary to minimize the risk of illness or even death.