A surgical face mask, also called a medical face mask, is designed to be worn by medical personnel during medical procedures. Surgeons wear surgical masks when they are operating on their patients. Surgical masks designed for use by nurses and other healthcare workers are designed to prevent the entry of viruses and bacteria from the patient’s mouth and nose by capturing airborne particles and droplets from the mouth and nose of the wearer.
A Surgical Face Mask consists of a clear plastic face mask with a disposable cannula at the top. The top of the cannula is attached to a ring on the inside of the head. To wear the Surgical Face Mask, a person places his or her hand behind the ring on the inside of the head and then places his or her mouth on the mouthpiece. The airways are manually closed by the tightly secured ring. The Surgical Face Mask has an attached oxygen tank that supplies oxygen to the wearer while he or she sleeps.
Different types of surgical masks have different densities and thicknesses of air flow holes. These air flow holes are positioned over different areas of the face and nose, so that the user can breathe easier. Some of these masks have between three and five layers of air flow holes. Some also have four layers of air holes. Layers make it easier for a person to breathe by allowing more particles to pass through the mouthpiece.
Another difference in face masks is in the number of layers to which the air holes are attached. Higher layer levels allow more particles to pass through the mask. However, the layer thicknesses to determine how much of each particle the wearer can capture through the holes. Some high-layer masks have between five and seven layers of holes. Lower-level face masks, however, have only two layers. Some high-layer masks have even fewer layers than these.
The material from which the face mask is made may affect its durability and comfort. Some materials, such as fiberglass, are more comfortable than others. Some also make the skin less slippery. Other materials, such as vinyl, are more durable and washable. A disposable mask may be used once or twice before it is disposed of.
The mouthpieces for these devices are meant to be worn to cover only the nose and mouth, not both. A nasal insert is sometimes used to keep the mouthpiece from sliding down the throat and irritating the skin above the nose. If a patient has a tendency to breathe through his nose, he must wear a surgical mask over his nose when he sleeps. Otherwise, the insides of the nose will get irritated.