A face mask, sometimes called a cpap mask, is a disposable plastic mask typically of synthetic textiles, typically cotton. It covers the entire head to prevent moisture, air, or air leakage. Some cloth masks have straps or clasps that pull away from the head for easy cleaning, but many come with Velcro or snap closures. Face masks are meant to keep the skin in the mask from moving, but they also serve a medical purpose. They can help control the amount of oxygen reaching the lungs during a sleep apnea episode.
The face mask was invented by a German doctor in the 1920s. The doctor discovered that he could increase the flow of air into a patient’s lungs by covering their mouth and nose with a small cloth face coverings. These cloths, he found, caused by tiny droplets of sweat to form on the face. By covering the nose and mouth with the cloth face coverings, he was effectively trapping the sweat against the skin and preventing it from evaporating into the air. When air cannot reach the lungs, this allows for easier breathing during sleep.
Because this was soon to be used to combat sleep apnea, the cloth face covering became a symbol of restorative healing. The tradition of using these cloths continued even after penicillin was available and doctors could make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe treatment. Many people still believe using a cloth face mask as a means of respite from poor breathing is effective today. For many patients, a visit to the doctor’s office does not always mean a prescription; they may just need to have a quick visit covered with a simple face mask.
There are two types of face masks that are available. There are loose-fitting or multipurpose face masks that fit tightly across the nose and cheeks, preventing any airflow from escaping and ensuring that any moisture is trapped between the face and the clothing. Medications are often prescribed for this type of breathing issue. Other types of face masks, however, may be used in place of loose-fitting or multipurpose versions and may be worn for therapeutic purposes or during extended periods of bed rest.
Both types of face mask provide similar, though very different, means of slowing down or stopping the spread of infection. Loose-fitting or multipurpose versions can be worn during extended periods of bed rest to help prevent the spread of mold, bacteria and fungi while allowing for air to circulate and cooling the body. During the summer months, loose-fitting or multipurpose versions can also help reduce the spread of heat. Face masks with a snug fit across the nose and cheeks can also help slow down or stop the spread of sinusitis. These are all forms of preventive measures against illness.
Face masks that tie around the head are useful in preventing the spread of bacteria and germs around the nose. They also prevent mucus from draining away from the nose and mouth, which can collect at the back of the throat and lead to a condition known as a postnasal drip. This can lead to an uncomfortable feeling around the head and throat area, which can cause discomfort or even a full blown cold. A nasal strip, like the tiered type described above, can help keep the head and neck healthy and moist. The strips can be used before, during and after exposure to bacteria and fungus by washing out the mouth prior to eating, as well as between meals and during the night.