A surgical face mask, more commonly called a facial mask, is designed to be worn by medical practitioners during surgical procedures. Face masks designed for surgical use are sterile and designed to contain harmful biological hazards while reducing risks of infection to the surgical patient. Surgeons normally wear such masks before conducting surgery, and disposable face masks may be required after surgery in order to reduce contamination of the operating room and facilitate patient recovery. Face masks provide protection against airborne infectious substances such as in-flight blood, infectious surgical tools and other air-borne pathogens. They also prevent irritations of the skin by preventing the escape of airborne allergens during and after surgical procedures.
Surgical face masks work by providing a barrier between the operative environment and the patient’s skin to reduce contamination risk. Face masks work by capturing bacteria and other biological hazards from entering the patient’s airways during surgery. Such devices are often used in neonatal intensive care units (NICs), surgery centers, intensive care units and military hospitals, as they reduce the spread of infections and contamination to the extent feasible. Surgical face masks work by preventing air borne pathogens and allergens from entering the patient’s respiratory tract and causing contamination and irritation to the patient’s skin. These protective devices are necessary when operating delicate and potentially dangerous surgical procedures.
A nasal mask functions by preventing the transmission of airborne irritants and allergens through the nose into the throat and mouth. Nasal masks and hand sanitizer masks function in much the same way, except that the nasal and hand sanitizer mask acts as a barrier to airborne particles and allergens, rather than an airtight seal against particles entering the patient’s airways. Both types of masks and hand sanitizer can also prevent damage to the eye by airborne particles and allergens.
A face mask is sometimes recommended for children who are at risk of contracting allergies, as it helps prevent them from touching objects that might cause an allergic reaction. It is also helpful for babies and young children, whose immune systems are still developing. In the case of adults, a face mask can help prevent the transmission of nasal and sinus infections, as well as helping to limit dust and airborne particles entering the nose. While a face mask is unlikely to provide protection against the transmission of deadly pathogens such as HIV, Hepatitis C, or M.R.S.A., it can help to limit the exposure of the nose and mouth to such pathogens.
One type of face mask which does not require sealing the nose and mouth is called exhalation valves. These masks can be either simple (i.e., disposable) or plastic-made (i.e., the models that are used for nose and mouth, which have a stopper on top and two sets of ventilator valves). Exhalation valves help prevent excessive dryness of the face by reducing the rate at which air enters and leaves the nose and mouth. Dryness can aggravate colds and other common nose and throat infections. A plastic-made face mask similar in function to exhalation valves can be very useful for persons whose breathing is often obstructed by thick snows or by living in areas where nose and throat infections are common.
The use of a face mask in conjunction with regular personal hygiene practices can help to reduce the spread of several types of bacteria. In general, face masks can help to limit the spread of ringworm, which is caused by a fungus that enters through the skin and spreads around the face and scalp. It can also limit the spread of colds or flu due to the fact that most of these viruses require warm, moist areas to survive. While these kinds of infections can generally not be transmitted between people who do not share their masks, they can be transferred from one person who does share their mask to another through contact of body fluids or on clothing or in the air.