Face masks have been used for centuries to help maintain the health of the skin. In ancient times, people would use substances such as honey or ointments of various sorts to help clean and close pores, which is how face masks were invented. Modern science has developed a wide array of face mask products, but most of them contain ingredients that could be harmful to the skin.
A cloth face mask is simply a mask worn over the nose and mouth, usually made of coarse common fabric, such as cotton. Common materials used in making a face mask include synthetic blends of polyester and acrylic, which offer little in the way of skin protection and can easily become stained after constant wear. Polyester powder can easily become dirty, discolored, and soggy, while acrylic powder can look dull and runny after frequent use. If physical distancing is impossible and when other effective masks aren’t readily available, cloth face masks can provide some measure of protection for the nose, while allowing a clear view of the mouth.
Facial masks can also help reduce swelling and redness, especially if wearing them while exercising or engaging in other strenuous physical activities. They can even be worn during sleep, which can help combat the occurrence of sleep apnea, a sleeping disorder in which breathing is stopped due to congestion or a rapid heartbeat. In order to get the full benefits of these facial treatments, however, it is important to keep them away from prolonged wear, as they can cause irritation and damage to the skin.
The typical face mask consists of two parts: the face mask itself, which are worn on the head, over the nose, and over the lips; and a device called an exhalation valve, which is attached to the mask and force out air through a tube at the base. Exhalation valves can be either electronic or mechanical, with the mechanical devices often being preferred. Mechanical exhalation valves require a small battery backup in order to work, and are more suited to long-term wear. Electronic masks, by contrast, can be used in short bursts to provide instant relief when needed, but come with the drawback of the batteries running out and the need to reset the unit. These masks, along with their exhalation valves, are most commonly worn during sleep.
The main advantage to wearing a face mask, whether a physical or electronic model, is that it provides a barrier between the wearer’s lungs and face. When air enters the mask, it forces out through the valve, effectively expanding the air’s pressure. By doing this, it prevents allergens such as dust, pollen, and smoke from entering the airways, while simultaneously providing a way to remove irritants from the skin, which can cause irritation, such as cosmetics, in the eyes. Many patients find that wearing a face mask helps prevent or significantly reduce the occurrence of itching, swelling, and nasal symptoms during the wearer’s daily routine.
Although face masks have been effective for over one hundred years, they are still widely used today in many places and situations. For example, they are commonly used at public places such as schools, businesses, and hospitals to prevent the spread of contagious diseases. As well, they are commonly used by individuals who may be allergic to airborne pollutants, such as pollen, or who have a respiratory condition that makes it difficult to breathe in some areas. As well, there are many people who enjoy the benefits of wearing a mask to protect their skin and their health.