A cloth face mask, sometimes called a face masking cloth, is simply a mask worn over the nose and mouth, generally in cotton, designed to cover the nose and mouth areas. While many cloth face masks can be removed for cleaning purposes, there are some that cannot. When physical distancing isn’t possible, and if inexpensive masks aren’t readily available, cloth face masks are a great alternative.
N95 Respirators are one type of face masks used by the public health sector. These are often used in places where surgical masks are required. N95 respirators protect health professionals from inhaling large particulate matter that may cause serious health problems. Because they do require use of disposable face masks, most public health workers use N95 respirators in high-risk settings, such as operating room settings and hospitals.
You’ve probably seen a lot of medical students performing a test where they put their hands in a dish filled with liquid and asked a volunteer to drink from a spout. If the volunteer were to drink from the dish without using the spout, she would develop diarrhea. However, if they were to use the spout, then they would develop vomiting. If you don’t believe this is a problem, consider the fact that if you drink from a dirty glass of water, then you could develop serious bacteria or even virus, much worse than diarrhea.
The face masks we wear help to prevent the entry of microbial organisms, viruses and bacteria into our systems. To achieve this, there are four layers of fabric that we use. One layer is the face mask itself, two layers are layers of antiseptic ointment (medicated soap), and a fourth layer of antimicrobial fabric that prevent the entry of contaminants, e.g., urine, saliva and blood. All of these layers work together to ensure that we maintain a low level of contamination.
A common misconception about face masks is that they have to be worn only while the person is awake. In reality, anyone can wear them, even when they are sleeping. Face masks can be worn during normal waking hours, as well as while the individual is sleeping. Typically, a face mask is worn most of the time when the person is awake, but they may feel more comfortable wearing one underpants liner while they sleep, for instance. As long as you are careful not to allow air to enter around the perimeter of the mask, then wearing a face mask while you sleep is perfectly safe.
Disposable nose guards are another popular type of face masks that have been used successfully in preventing the spread of germs. Nose guards are designed to keep the nose free of dirt and debris, so that it does not serve as a reservoir for germs. While using nose guards is important, it is equally important not to allow the guard to fall off or for the wearer to breathe in the dirt that is on the nose guard. While cleaning the nose guard and ensuring that it stays in place will help to reduce the risk of spreading germs, the wearer should also ensure that it cannot fall off.