Face masks are now an important tool in the fight against coronavirus. The CDC and the WHO urges people to wear face masks when in public places to control the spread of the virus. As a result, it has led to a significant shortage of face masks, especially surgical masks. But are they really effective? Figuring out the type of mask you should buy that will protect you against coronavirus can be hard. Therefore, this article will give you an insight into the kind of mask you should use.
Types of Face Masks
Generally, there are three types of face masks used during this COVID-19 period. They include:
- Surgical masks
- N95 respirators
- Homemade cloth face mask
Let’s get into each of them in detail.
Surgical masks are also referred to as medical masks. These are disposable masks that protect once mouth, nose, and chin from contact with droplets, splashes, and sprays from an infected person. This type of mask keeps germs away and also prevent the spread of respiratory secretions from the wearer to others. A surgical mask is also designed to filter large particles in the air.
These masks come in various designs, with the most common being the rectangular-shaped one with some folds. Note that the Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved any surgical masks to be used as protection against coronavirus.
These masks offer extra protection because they filter out both small and large particles, as opposed to the surgical masks. N95 respirator gets the name from the fact that it blocks out 95% of tiny particles, including viruses. Note that the masks come in two varieties, there are those with an external one-way air valve and there are those without. N95 with a one-way air valve keeps the mask cool and less stuffy since the warm air you breathe out escapes very easily. Unfortunately, respirators with valve release unfiltered air when the wearer exhales.
This is a major concern, especially if you’re wearing it in public areas, thus some cities have banned the use of N95 respirators with a valve. Just like the surgical masks, N95 respirators are intended to be disposable too. But researchers are trying to come up with ways of disinfecting N95 masks so they can be reused.
Homemade Cloth Face Masks
While there is a shortage in supply of surgical and N95 face masks, cloth masks are easily accessible and can be washed and reused. The CDC recommends that everyone wears cloth face masks while in public to avoid the spread of the virus. If everyone puts on a cloth mask in areas like the grocery stores and pharmacies or any other crowded places, we will be able to minimize the spread of COVID-19. However, people with breathing difficulties, children under the age of two, or anyone who can’t be able to remove the mask on their own, shouldn’t be allowed to use a cloth mask.
Also, healthcare providers should be careful when using homemade cloth masks. They should use these masks in combination with a face shield that covers the front and sides of the face and extends to the chin. Nevertheless, these masks are cheap and simple to make. You can easily find the instruction on how to make one in the comfort of your home. What’s more, the CDC website has instructions for no-sew masks made from bandannas and T-shirts. Most importantly, homemade cloth masks should include multiple layers of fabric. Remember to wash the mask after every use.
Factors to Consider When Choosing A Face Mask
How the mask fits Does it retain moisture or if it allows one to breathe properly The number of filtration layer, especially for homemade masks How many times can you use it before disposing of it? Is it washable and how often?
Do Masks Prevent Spread of Coronavirus?
The answer is yes, although it can be hard to determine the exact effect especially on a large scale. Now, answering the question on the kind of face mask that best protects against coronavirus, studies have shown that N95 masks are highly effective in protecting one against the virus. But this applies if you wear the mask correctly. It can be hard to keep on the N95 mask since it gets a bit hot and stuffy, so a lot of people tend to take it off.
Some doctors say that while N95 is more effective, surgical masks may help protect you from other people’s coughs and sneezes. The CDC reported that the virus spreads easily between people interacting in close proximity, thus if you don’t have access to an N95 mask, wearing cloth masks in a public setting, where it’s hard to maintain social distancing is encouraged. Otherwise don’t go to any public space without wearing a face mask.
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