A face mask, sometimes called a facial pack, is a thick, closed-mouth mask worn over either the nose and cheeks or the mouth. While sometimes effective at distorting expressions, they’re hardly the most comfortable to wear. When physical distancing isn’t possible, and when even more invasive masks aren’t available, cloth face packs are a practical alternative to plastic face masks. Many cloths also have added moisture management properties to reduce skin temperature and humidity.
Most face masks, though, use one of two common fabrics – those made with “ceryose” or “impure” fibers, which pull the face mask into the skin, rather than staying on top of it like traditional fabrics like cotton or polyester. Both fabrics, once applied, create small, visible droplets of water on the surface of the skin. These droplets expand slightly as air moves through them, causing a kind of dampness that makes it uncomfortable to breathe. This is why face masks with these types of fabrics are most often worn during humid weather: the dampness helps make it more comfortable to breathe.
Some masks also employ what’s called “exhalation valves.” These little pieces of plastic or metal are worn right on top of the mask, next to the skin, to keep the droplets of water contained and away from the wearer’s face. Usually these exhalation valves are made out of stainless steel, but some can be found in other materials, including plastic, for less cost. Because most are made of plastic, however, these pieces of equipment are easily damaged. Instead of being able to breathe just fine, staff members may find their masks completely ruined by dust, leaving them no better equipped to fight germs than they were before.
A third type of face mask commonly used in hospitals and other medical facilities is what’s known as “cavity breathers.” These pieces of equipment are used when a person has a cough or flu-like symptoms that won’t go away. In situations like these, the person must wear a face mask at all times, even when the situation doesn’t call for one. These pieces of equipment are essentially designed to fit over the mouth so that a person can breathe comfortably, but they’re not perfect. While many are extremely efficient and durable, none are completely airtight, so they must be kept in places where they can be reached and inspected while wearing them.
Despite the concerns above, it’s important to note that all of these kinds of face masks have a purpose. No matter which piece of equipment a person chooses to wear, they all serve the same purpose. All work towards keeping a patient’s mouth protected from particles that could cause serious health problems if inhaled. And all are highly comfortable to wear, allowing those in need of breathing to do so comfortably. It’s impossible to argue against the importance of using these pieces of equipment where possible, especially when an emergency has already manifested itself.
Unfortunately, face masks aren’t all created equally. For patients suffering from respiratory infections or allergies, it’s imperative that a medical professional to instruct them on the best way to remove their mask when they are done wearing it. Even with breathing apparatuses, not all face masks can effectively prevent the transmission of infections from one patient to the next. If a person is infected with a pathogen, it may be difficult to remove the mask in the case of a standard infection prevention mask. For this reason, medical professionals recommend purchasing a specially made piece of equipment for each individual as a preventative measure.