A medical face mask, also called a sterile medical face mask, is designed to be worn by medical health professionals during medical procedures. Surgical masks are designed to prevent infections from spreading in patients and preserving personnel by containing airborne bacteria and liquid droplets shed from the nose and mouth of the wearer. The term “surgical mask” refers to any facial mask that prevents transmission of infection through the nose and mouth of the wearer. These masks have an oval or crescent shaped covering that opens on one side for breathing and on the other side for wiping of the face. They can be used to prevent transmission of hepatitis B and C virus, herpes, shingles and eczema.
Face masks are used before, during and after surgical procedures. They prevent contamination from entering the surgical area and bloodstream. The use of disposable face masks has resulted in fewer healthcare worker infections from bacteria and viruses. However, there have been concerns over the long-term effects of wearing these devices.
The use of nasal strips that tie around the nose and mouth has been found to lead to the transmission of hepatitis B and C virus, herpes, shingles and eczema. The wearing of face masks that tie around the nose can also lead to nose and mouth infections. In one study, a high percentage of nurses wearing nose ties developed post-nasal drip. This occurs when mucus leaks from the nasal openings into the mouth and throat. Masks that tie around the nose and mouth have been found to cause halitosis by collecting bacteria and making it difficult to breath.
To reduce the risk of transmission of these viruses and bacteria through the nose and mouth, it is important to make sure that you regularly clean and disinfect your face mask and ear loops. When cleaning the mask, make sure to remove all the clear skin around the perimeter. If possible, avoid using facial cleansers or soap. A sterilized needle should be used to remove any bacteria or virus on the face mask and ear loops.
After removing all the clear skin, make sure that you wipe your face mask with a clean and disinfected towel. Follow the product instructions for correct and recommended cleaning methods. With the help of your hands, rinse the mask in hot water.
After rinsing, turn the face mask upside down and use the sterile needle to remove the clear layers of the fabric. If possible, try not to wear disposable materials for the reason described above. Instead, try wearing fabrics like cotton-made gloves and gauze or silk. If you have many layers of fabrics, you can choose to wear only the topmost layer or alternate layers. As for the ear pieces, if possible, do not use the ones with plastic openings as these are often trap dirt and can cause infections to the ear drums. Also, you can follow the product instructions, but most importantly, keep your hands clean and healthy.