A surgical face mask, also called a sterile medical face mask, is designed to be worn by medical professionals during medical procedures. Surgical masks designed for use during surgery are designed to prevent infection in medical staff and preventing the spread of diseases in the patient’s body by collecting bacteria shed in aerosols and liquid droplets from the nose and mouth of the wearer. Face masks made from sterile material to prevent contamination by microorganisms and other foreign materials are used in hospitals, clinics, surgical centers and in intensive care units (ICU). Facial masks used in these settings are required to meet various standards set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Face masks are considered to be a biological safety equipment (BSE) when they meet these regulatory standards.
Facial masks can also be made of fabrics that have been approved for use in the USA or internationally. Examples of these materials include vinyl, latex and face masking tape, which have all been regulated by the FDA. In general, face masks made from vinyl are low maintenance and do not allow the growth of microorganisms and allergens. The only disadvantage is that they cannot prevent or contain the transmission of viruses.
Face coverings (face masks) are garments that cover the entire head, except for the eyes. They are worn to provide protection against the transmission of airborne infectious agents. These garments come in two varieties one to cover just the nose and mouth, and another to cover the mouth and nose with a full face coverings. Face coverings come in different materials. Some common materials used in face coverings include vinyl, polypropylene, nylon and Lycra.
Face masks function in similar fashion as exhalation valves. Masks function through the use of a flap or valve that allows air flow to pass through the fabric as opposed to restricting it. Exhalation valves, on the other hand, function by opening up the mouth so that a user may breathe. Both masks and exhalation valves came in a variety of materials to choose from.
Wearing protective face masks during times of an active or infectious outbreak is essential. Most commonly, health officials recommend the wearing of masks at work and at school. However, studies have shown that the wearing of masks has significantly reduced the incidence of colds in children attending daycare centers. Wearing protective clothing is also recommended for patients of hospitals, whose immune systems are highly susceptible to infection. During an active pandemic, most health care workers will also wear masks.
A face mask can be made from many different types of materials including: polyethylene, spandex, vinyl, nylon, and polypropylene. Some materials are more appropriate for certain situations than others. For example, it would not be appropriate to wear vinyl or polyethylene pants in a wet, low humidity environment. For this type of situation, one could consider buying a wet/low humidity face mask instead.