A surgical face mask, sometimes called a medical face mask, is an integral medical protective gear worn by medical professionals during healthcare procedures. Surgeons, plastic surgeons, nurses and other medical staff use face masks to protect their faces from contamination and infection. Face masks for all types of medical and non-medical situations are made from various materials such as vinyl, neoprene and ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA, EPDM, PE), which are designed to provide superior fit and long-lasting performance. Face masks are used in hospitals, clinics, intensive care units, dental practices and surgical centers to protect the patient’s medical identity and to prevent the spread of infections.
Different healthcare workers require different types of face masks. Cleaners, pharmaceutical professionals and emergency staff need facial masks that can withstand sweat, dirt and infection to keep them comfortable. Facial breathers and airways patients require disposable face masks that allow easy breathing and easy exhaling. Facial trauma patients, burn victims and patients with allergies need to wear special face masks to avoid contact with their allergens. Emergency room personnel and those working in burn units or trauma centers need to wear breathing masks that prevent the spread of burn virus and infection to the patient’s skin.
The most common material for a face mask is vinyl. Vinyl is a strong durable fabric that has excellent resistance against abrasion and ripping. While it cannot breathe and will eventually shrink, vinyl remains a great choice for a protective face mask. It is available in a wide variety of colors including blue, green, yellow, red, white and pink. A breathable fabric such as EPDM or ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA, EPDM) will have a higher comfort factor, but may not provide as much resistance to abrasion and tearing.
Some face masks may contain hyaluronic acid as an ingredient. Hyaluronic acid commonly comes in injections, but some manufacturers have made oral versions of hyaluronic acid masks. Hyaluronic acid is often used to prevent skin dryness and reduce wrinkles. Some masks may contain hyaluronic acid as an ingredient, but it is difficult to determine if the product is actually hyaluronic acid. As hyaluronic acid can be damaged by overexposure to the sun, it may also be susceptible to damage from repeated exposure.
There are many other materials that may be included in a face mask. Some masks are made from fabric and cover the entire head. These cloth masks can provide excellent coverage, but they do require frequent re-moisturizing. Some cloth masks are made from synthetic materials that can provide some amount of relief from chaffing and irritation of the skin. However, synthetic materials can easily be compromised by exposure to the sun. Synthetic facemasks should be used in areas that will receive direct sunlight only.
Facial masks can come in a variety of forms. Some combine moisturizers and astringents to provide additional skin care. Astringents can be as simple as tea tree oil or as complex as herbal formulas containing trehalose, algae extract, vitamins B, C and zinc oxide. Natural astringents may be a better choice for people who are prone to allergies, as some astringents have been known to cause allergic reactions in individuals. For maximum effect, face masks should be applied frequently throughout the day and preferably at bedtime.