A surgical face mask, also called a surgical facial mask, is designed to be worn by medical professionals during surgical procedures. Surgical masks are designed to prevent infections from infecting personnel and patients by capturing airborne pathogens shed from the nose and mouth of the wearer and shed in large liquid droplets. Face masks that have been approved for surgical use are usually made of either sterile plastic or latex, both of which are resistant to infection. They may also contain odorless and colorless substances that prevent transmission of infections.
There are several potential advantages to using a surgical mask. It may reduce the risk of infections to staff that perform surgery on patients. It may also reduce the risk of transmitting disease by reducing the number of opportunities for people to come in direct contact with infected objects. In addition, wearing a mask while operating certain procedures may prevent injury to the patient or to the surgical area itself. However, studies show that the majority of these risks occur only when the patient and/or surgeon are not wearing a mask at all, or when the patient is not wearing a mask that effectively filters and traps air pollutants.
Face masks can also be worn to help maintain social distancing while inside of a surgical environment. Masks should only be worn to maintain social distancing if the patient’s own nose and mouth are clear of any visible blood or mucous. In addition, masks should only be worn to maintain social distancing when no one else needs to know that the person is wearing a mask. The idea is to ensure the greatest level of safety and care while still maintaining interpersonal relationships.
It is important to understand the difference between “clear masks” and “cleansed masks.” “Clear masks” do not allow a patient to breathe directly through their mouth; rather, the respirations pass through a clear plastic barrier or filter to prevent any contamination of the lungs and mouth. “Cleansed masks” allow patients to breathe directly through their mouth. This is important because it allows for the maximum filtration of contaminated air. In most situations, patients will be required to wear both a mask and a breathing mask at the same time as they perform a procedure. The use of a mask while performing procedures can prevent some students learning to properly breathe through their mouths, which can increase the risk of serious breathing infections.
The most common method of demonstrating symptoms to notify students of the risk of spreading respiratory disease is through showing symptoms that can be transferred through air. One example is yellow dust on the patient’s face and hands. A mask should be worn to prevent the transmission of this yellow dust from one patient to another, which can cause the formation of a potentially life-threatening respiratory virus. The same is true when students begin to show symptoms of eye irritations caused by exposure to airborne allergens, such as cigarette smoke.
As a result of the different types of materials that masks may be made from, it is critical that students ask their teachers and others who they are working with about which type of mask is the safest for them to wear. A good rule of thumb is that the simplest of the facemask, the less protection it offers. Students should always clean their hands with soap and water after they use any type of instrument and before putting it away. Failing to do so puts students at risk for spreading germs and illnesses through dirt and their hands.