Face masks, also called medical face masks, are designed to be worn by medical practitioners during various medical procedures to avert airborne transmission of infectious infections from patients to the treating personnel. This equipment has been in use since the 1950s, when it was first used during surgical procedures. Over the years, it has continued to prove its worth, and continues to be used even in non-surgical situations such as laboratory work or operating room operations. There are different types of face masks that differ in function and application. Most face masks function as respiratory protection, although some are also made to protect the eyes.
The nasal mask or nasal breather mask is often used to prevent irritants and foreign matters such as dust, pollen, smoke and food particles from entering the nose and throat. A nasal mask functions as a barrier to obstruct the entry of airways by keeping them open for ventilation. It prevents irritants such as mucus and pollen from entering the nose and throat, thus preventing symptoms of sinusitis and rhinitis. The nose clip or noseband is often worn below the nasal shield to keep it secured at all times. It is important that the mask fits well and that there is enough breathing room to allow proper airflow.
The earplugs or earmuffs are often worn to keep any noise from entering the ear canal and damaging the eardrum. Earplugs can be disposable or reusable, depending on the manufacturer. Ear muffs can be used as general prevention against hearing damage, but they are not particularly effective when it comes to protecting the eyes and face from facial transmission of infections.
Another commonly used face mask is the face mask respirator, which is essentially a piece of cloth, typically with a zipper and elastic on the edges. A face mask respirator serves to protect the wearer’s nasal cavity from irritating particles and facilitate air circulation within the nose and mouth. As air is exchanged, it travels through a series of canals, which are sealed by a plastic sheet. This is to ensure that no harmful dust particles enter the patient’s body.
Other types of face coverings include silicon dioxide or silica gel, which spread the bacteria from one area of the skin to another. These are commonly referred to as body washes. Some of these types of masks, such as the silicon dioxide body wash, feature air purifying and anti-bacterial properties to combat the spread of germs and bacteria. Some others have been shown to reduce the size of tiny blisters that tend to form in the nose and mouth when a person is experiencing a cold.
In today’s public settings, medical workers must take all reasonable precautions to avoid contamination of patients by other people, bacteria, and viruses. However, some public settings, such as nursing homes, hospitals, and clinics, cannot completely eliminate all forms of potential contamination. For these situations, face cloth coverings provide an effective barrier against other people and bacteria. Although many cloths are disposable, they prove their value time again in preventing illness and infection.