Face masks have been used for centuries, mostly to clean and soften the skin. They can be made of clay, or simple bandages and they can be used on small children, the elderly and the infirm. Face masks can be simple as a bandage wrapped around the entire face, but today’s masks can be more elaborate displays. A cloth face mask, sometimes called a nasal mask, is a specially designed mask usually made from synthetic common cloth, most often cotton, worn over both the nose and the mouth. While more elaborate facial masks aren’t always available, if face distancing isn’t possible, cloth face masks can provide a cheap alternative.
When you’re deciding on the materials for your face mask, there are some things you’ll want to consider. For breathability, it’s important that you select fabrics that are thin, flexible and that don’t trap moisture. Some fabrics that are commonly used for breathability include vinyl, polyester and nylon. It’s a good idea to look for two layers of fabric, so that air can flow easily between the two layers. If the fabrics aren’t thin enough, you may find that they cause skin irritation or even chaffing. Two layers that are too thick can also interfere with your natural breathing.
The fabrics you select for your mask must be washable. There are no “no spin” products on the market that can be washed in the washing machine without destroying them. When you wash these types of face covers, it’s a good idea to use a gentle detergent to minimize damage, especially if you wear your mask without its cover. Mild detergents may be okay for regular wear, but it’s better to reduce your risk of damage by washing your fabrics in warm, gentle water. Also, don’t forget to dry them on a low heat setting, because the high heat can actually cause damage to the fabric.
All surgical masks must be certified N95 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This is an indication that the mask does more than keep particles from entering the nose and throat; it also provides protection against dust and airborne irritants. The higher the level of N95, the more protected the user is. Although it’s not always possible to have a mask with all of the features and benefits of a traditional disposable mask, those that do have special features and benefits are worth the investment. N95 masks have tiny air holes that provide excellent air ventilation, thereby reducing fogging and minimizing irritation to the face and throat.
For most people, a standard cloth mask is fine. For those who suffer from a variety of rhinitis or allergies, it’s probably better to choose a face shield rather than a cloth mask. Some fabric masks are treated with anti-microbial compounds that kill off harmful bacteria. For people with facial eczema, it’s best to choose one that is made from hypoallergenic natural fabrics like cotton. However, many medical professionals to encourage their patients to use masks made from 100 percent natural fabrics like cotton and polyester.
The cost of face shields and other medical procedures has decreased dramatically over the past few decades. Advancements in medical technology have led to materials that are much more durable and comfortable than they used to be. Most of the new surgical masks available today are made from high quality woven fabrics that provide superior comfort and protection. The increased durability and comfort provided by woven fabrics make them a great choice for a wide variety of patients, regardless of their medical needs.