To prevent the spread of coronavirus pandemic from people around the globe, WHO is recommending in their advice for the public that everyone should be wearing a face mask when leaving home or visiting public places especially where it’s difficult to maintain a 6-foot distance.
As face masks are different in their types and are becoming more of a necessity for people (not just only medical professionals and physicians) around the globe, the purpose they serve is different as the individual who is wearing them. Masks are different in their types and not created equal regarding the level of protection they offer.
How Face Masks Work
Face masks were commonly used to prevent air pollutants, viruses, and other injurious dirt particles. In this time of global emergency due to COVID-19, face masks are important and come in handy to filter & block tiny droplets in the air to prevent the spread of coronavirus pandemic in others who are healthy.
A good face mask covers the mouth and nose of an infected person to block the release of droplets that are filled with viruses. On another hand, healthy people can wear face masks to avoid virus filled droplets when it is hard to maintain social distance in public places.
Can face masks protect me from the coronavirus?
A face mask made from fabric is unable to block coronavirus but can work as an added layer of defense to stop the spread of coronavirus when used along with the regular handwashing and social distancing according to the advice of health experts.
Primary types of face masks
Three main and primary types of face masks are listed below:
These are disposable and lose fitting masks that cover nose, mouth, and chin to protect the wearer from splashes, large droplets, and sprays. Surgical masks are also used to prevent the spread of transferrable respiratory discharges from the wearer to others. The top of a surgical mask includes a flexible metal strip that the wearer can form to the nose. Comfortable elastic bands of the surgical masks help hold it in the place while you are wearing. The bands can be looped behind the ears or behind the head according to the design and structure of the mask.
It is a mask that comes with tight-fitting and covers the mouth and nose tightly. N95 respirators can easily filter and block the small droplets and viruses along with splashes, sprays, and large droplets. It is made with a circular or oval shape to form a tight seal to your face. Its elastic bands help hold it firmly on your face to help you block infectious droplets and viruses etc. Some of the N95 respirators are made with an additional attachment known as an exhalation valve, to help the wearer with breathing and humidity issues. These masks are not made for one-size-fits-all and must be tested before use to ensure that it is the right fit for your face and a proper seal is formed for extreme protection.
Fabric face masks
These masks are made with fabric or cloth and offer a small degree of protection. CDC recommends using fabric face masks in public settings with proper handwashing hygiene and 6-feet distance. Experts also suggest consumers to use fabric masks and leave the surgical masks for healthcare professionals. Most of the companies like SewCal Masks make fabric masks with multiple sheets of 100% tightly woven cotton to provide better protection to the wearer.
Can wearing a face mask protect against the coronavirus?
spreads from person to person with respiratory droplets generated due to the cough, sneezing, or exhales. An individual can contract the coronavirus when breath in those droplets. Moreover, when the droplets land on a surface or object, touching that surface and then touching the mouth or nose with an uncleaned home can also lead to the spread of COVID-19.
Surgical masks cannot help prevent the spread of virus as they cannot filter the small droplets and other infectious particles. However, these masks can filter and block the large droplets to protect against the viruses.
N95 respirators are tightly fit on the face and leave no room for droplets and particles to pass through, but CDC doesn’t recommend people to use these masks outside the medical settings due to many reasons. As these masks should be fit-tested to use appropriately, an improper seal can lead to leakage that can cause lowering the respirator’s effectiveness to block droplets and other injurious particles. These masks are uncomfortable to wear for longer and can create irritation for the wearer when wearing for the extended time span. Moreover, the supply of N95 respirators is also limited, which is the major reason to make them accessible only for healthcare professionals.
Fabric face masks
Fabric face masks come in different shapes and easily available in the market. These masks offer a small degree of protection but can help prevent the spread of pandemic when used with proper handwashing hygiene and social distance. Fabric face masks are recommended to be used when visiting outside like public settings and shopping malls. One should wash a fabric mask after every use. Also be careful when wearing or removing the mask and make sure not to touch face, nose, or eyes. Wash your hands with soap or instant hand sanitizer right after removing a mask.
A face mask alone cannot protect you from deadly viruses until you are practicing them with proper hygiene and social distancing when visiting public places.
Be sure to take off your mask by the ear loops or ties and don’t touch the front of your mask as it is the place where germs, pollutants, and viruses are. Surgical masks are disposable masks and should be thrown in the bin after use. However, cloth face masks are washable and should be washed with hot water and soap. Put your fabric face masks in your washing machine with detergent and hand them to dry for later use. Wash your hands properly right after removing and washing your fabric mask.