A surgical face mask, also called a sterile medical face mask, is designed to be worn only by trained health care professionals during medical procedures. Surgical masks designed for the sterile environment are designed to prevent cross-contamination of patients and/or treating staff by capturing airborne bacteria and liquid droplets from the mouth and nose of the wearer. Surgeons who perform face-to-face surgery wear disposable plastic face masks while operating. A surgical mask protects the surgeon and the patient from infection; it prevents accidental spills; it prevents the escape of dust and dirt when equipment is moved; and it eliminates the need for the expensive and often harmful disinfecting agents used during surgery.
The face mask should be made of approved cdc material (DC=cesulfated polyethylene chloride). This material provides superior protection against dust, dirt and any airborne particles. Typically, this type of material has holes at strategic places to allow airflow through the fabric. This allows the air to ventilate the inside of the mask while preventing condensation on the face and surrounding areas. The holes allow any airborne particles and fluid to drain away from the patient and into the air.
Surgical face masks may also contain extra features, such as extra-sudair ventilated airways, and increased air flow capacities. Some masks are designed to prevent and remove irritants, such as cold and spicy foods. Face mask ventilation systems are another feature that can provide increased comfort and help keep a patient comfortable. Other features include extra-wide openings and wide cloth face cover. These cloths help prevent uncomfortable rubbing and chaffing.
While disposable face masks may be convenient for a single patient, in clinical settings, multiple patients may require the use of disposable masks. For example, many hospitals require that patients have access to at least one disposable mask on a daily basis. Face masks may be required on patients with a variety of medical conditions. Face masks may be used to address breathing issues, prevent dust from entering the nose and mouth, or for patients who have a decreased airway due to surgery. Disposable face masks may also be needed for patients who are allergic to certain perfumes, hair dyes, chemicals and other products.
With disposable face masks, a thin film filter can be placed over the breathing passage in order to capture microscopic particles, which are then removed from the breathing medium. A HEPA filter, for example, can trap particles up to 0.3 micrometer in size. The filter may also include a double-wall filter for particles that are smaller than the diameter of a human hair. The majority of disposable masks use this type of filter material. In addition to a HEPA filter, some face mask manufacturers offer alternatives to traditional filters, such as water-based and cotton absorbent materials.
A more effective way to keep face masks clean is to use an alcohol wipe. Alcohol wipes are great for wiping dirt and debris from a face mask without the use of a disposable filter. In addition, most alcohol wipes can be cleaned with a few swipes of the cloth. Another method of cleaning a face mask is through the use of an absorbent pad that will capture all of the particles that may fall from the mask. These methods of cleaning face masks provide a cleaner alternative to traditional wipe-cleaner vacuums.