Face masks come in all sorts of varieties and uses. A cloth face mask, sometimes called a nasal mask, is a thin face mask worn above the nose and mouth. It can be helpful for breathing in and out, as well as drying out the thick mucus that can accumulate in the sinuses and throat. If physical distancing isn’t possible, and if more potent nasal sprays aren’t readily available, a cloth face mask can help to clean the nasal passageways. Sometimes they are used for treatment of allergies or chronic sinusitis. Many people wear them at night for added benefit.
A full face mask (also called a surgical face mask) covers the entire head. Usually made of silicone or other flexible plastic, it fits over the entire head, with openings in the top and sides. The purpose of this sort of head cover is to keep the droplets of mucus from draining into the throat, which is what can happen when the area is too warm.
Narrowed openings in the sides allow mucus to drain while still trapping some of the moisture inside. This type of head cover is most effective if it is used regularly. There are 6 feet versions of this style of face mask, with an opening just below the nose, as well as wide, tapered openings on each side of the nose, allowing some drainage but preventing the droplets from draining out of the nose entirely. These 6 feet nasal covers can be very useful for those who need them, but they aren’t as popular as the other models.
Wider spreads are often used for surgical masks. They fit inside the mouth, covering the entire head. They are great for preventing sinus congestion, which can be alleviated by using one of these spreads. Most are meant for long term use, but you can use them for just a few moments here and there, since they can easily get wet. When the mask becomes saturated with saliva, it should be taken off and cleaned before it dries out completely.
Surgical masks, which are worn on just one side of the head, are very popular for individuals who are allergic to certain facial irritants or food. These masks can protect the wearer from exposure to these substances without necessarily wearing a face mask. Generally, these are worn for just a few minutes at a time and then removed, though some doctors prescribe them to be worn for up to 8 hours at a time, in order to provide protection from virus particles. When these are worn regularly, they can greatly reduce outbreaks of eczema, which can make the skin on the face become cracked open and swollen.
The main differences between all three types of face mask are their shape, size, and material. All cloth face masks use cloth strips that can either be cut into squares or ribbons or be placed inside a plastic bag. Some surgical masks use sterile materials that are taken from the nose or ear, while others have a rubber insert to cover the nasal cavity.