A surgical face mask, also called a medical facial mask, is designed to be worn daily by health care workers during surgical procedures. Surgical masks used in hospitals today are designed to prevent contamination of operating rooms by collecting and spreading infection-causing bacteria in the patient’s nose and mouth. Face masks worn by nurses, doctors, and other medical staff can prevent microbial contamination from reaching patients and causing serious health problems. Face masks are also used to prevent the transfer of infectious diseases from one patient to another. They can prevent the spread of hepatitis B and C pathogens, preventing the transmission of infections to other people.
Masks are typically worn over full or even partial skin to protect the wearer’s nose and mouth from contamination. A variety of materials are available for this purpose. Users can choose from plastic or cloth face masks and disposable or reusable ear loops or nasal plugs. Ear plugs and nasal clips are commonly replaced with disposable foam inserts that remain in the ear and keep them out of the patient’s eyes and mouth.
Face masks made of plastic material to fit comfortably over the head and neck to cover the top half of the face, except for the eyes. A plastic mask may be easily changed or removed with a few turns of a screw on the zipper. Cloth face masks may be washed using mild detergent, like Liquidity or by hand with mild soap and warm water. Some of the dirt may remain on the mask but this may be removed with some disinfecting agents.
The air flow through a plastic nose and mouth piece, attached to the top portion of the face mask by Velcro, can be increased to let more fresh air into the patient’s airway. The increase in air flow makes it easier for the patient to breathe and prevent sinus infections and allergic reactions to airborne bacteria or allergens. The airways become more open during breathing and the patient is able to talk and smile normally. Decongestant and OTC decongestants may also be used in surgical masks to provide temporary relief from post-operative congestion.
Surgical or steroidal antihistamine may be prescribed to reduce the severity of post-operative itching and swelling. Steroids and antibiotics can also be given to fight against bacterial infections and relieve the patient from various symptoms such as fever, chills, and nausea. Steroids, which contain antihistamine can reduce the release of histamine in the blood by suppressing the immune system’s reaction to allergens in the public places where patients usually congregate. Commonly spread diseases in the environment which spread through animals, dust, or insects are: Rabies, leptospirosis, distemper, e-coli, hepatitis, tularemia, and hepatitis B virus (HBV). Masks containing antihistamine can also prevent the spread of botulism or Bacarias.
Face masks should always be worn during times when the patient and other people are at risk of developing or contracting communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, syphilis, Hepatitis B, and toxoplasmosis. Face masks should never be worn during swimming or diving. They should also not be worn during chemotherapy, as they will prevent the effective exchange of air and nutrients with the air and water. Moreover, they will prevent others from breathing safely. Although a face mask can prevent all these, it is still important that the correct equipment and procedure in using it are followed. In addition, the patient himself should also take responsibility in using the mask according to manufacturer’s instructions and with the least amount of stress on the body.