A medical face mask, also called a surgical face mask, is designed to be worn by medical staff during various healthcare procedures. Face masks are designed to avoid infections in patients by capturing airborne particles and liquid droplets in the mouth and nose of the wearer. It provides a barrier to prevent the entry of infectious organisms into the skin and prevents the spread of airborne diseases such as hepatitis and influenza. A surgical face mask acts as a filter to collect bacteria and prevent the escape of airborne microorganisms, allergens, vapors and dust particles.
Face masks have different functions according to healthcare settings. In the workplace, they provide protection from airborne pathogens that can cause serious health problems if contaminated. The most common use of face masks is during emergency procedures such as administering CPR, stabilizing a patient, administering anesthetic or breathing techniques to injured patients. Face masks can prevent accidental leaks and spills from eroding surfaces, as well as facilitating the flow of air into the respirator. During pandemic, social distancing is necessary to avoid infecting others with a communicable disease.
Face masks come in two types: one layer and two layers. One-layered face masks are made of thick fabric that covers the entire face. Two layers are used to prevent the spreading of infection through the cloth. The thickness of the fabric is dependent on the kind of application needed. Heavy duty face masks made of thick vinyl with multiple layers are suitable for emergency situations.
Face masks may be made of disposable or non-disposable materials. Disposable masks may contain an anti-bacterial agent to kill the bacteria and keep the wearer safe from infection. If bacteria cannot be killed, the mask may contain a liner with an ozone generator to protect the eyes and skin. Non-disposable masks, however, should be used only while the wearer is not wearing them. The plastic liner in non-disposable masks may trap body oils and sweat, potentially spreading germs to other parts of the body if the wearer is not careful.
When it comes to cleaning, surgical masks and n95 masks require different methods. For surgical masks, it is recommended that they be hand-washed with water and mild soap. Any residues of medication should also be cleaned or sterilized in warm water before being replaced. After each use, cloth masks should be thoroughly dry cleaned using airless commercial cleaners. Any residual disinfectant should be removed immediately before putting them away. The manufacturer’s instructions on how to properly clean and care for surgical and n95 masks are generally adequate.
Wearing a face mask during a cold or flu pandemic can keep you safe from infections and reduce your chances of contracting a virus or bacterial infection. When choosing one, consider the kind of protection most important to you: whether it’s easier to wash, easier to dry, or more comfortable to wear. Be sure to check the label of each brand to ensure it suits your needs.