At the end of 2019, a virus from the class of coronavirus emerged in China. Since its emergence, it has rapidly spread over the 200 countries in the world. The scientists have named this coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2. However, the disease caused by this coronavirus is known as COVID-19.
The symptoms of coronavirus vary from person to person. Some don’t even observe any symptoms, and some feel mild illness. While some cases go into the complexities of breathing difficulty, severe pneumonia, and even respiratory organ failure. However, people with underlying health conditions are more vulnerable to get seriously ill.
Thus, healthcare specialists have strictly advised using face masks as protection against the spread of coronavirus. However, many people don’t even have basic knowledge about face masks.
In this article, a brief introduction to the types of face masks will be presented. It will help the reader to learn about the importance of using the right mask for protection against coronavirus and many more.
Related Article: Surgical Masks! WHO Guidelines to Use it Correctly for Protection
Table of Contents,
Types of Face Masks
There are several types of masks used to cover the face. Face protection gears range from proper surgical grade face masks, respirators to simple homemade cloth masks or bandannas.
The surgical masks and N95 respirators both come under the category of respirators and the standard of these masks manufacturing and use are regulated by the food and drug administration (with some collaboration with NIOSH on respirators).
Furthermore, the healthcare professionals pass surgical masks and N95 respirators face through a set of tests to analyze their fluid resistance, flammability, biocompatibility, and filtration efficiency.
However, the WHO advises N95 respirators to the workers who are more vulnerable to respiratory infections to high exposure with respiratory patients, respiratory secretions, splashes, fumes, sprays, viruses, and bacteria.
Furthermore, there are tons of videos available online on face masks DIY and homemade face masks. However, all these techniques make use of material that doesn’t even pass the fluid resistance test. Thus, the use of such face masks isn’t helpful to provide protection against coronavirus COVID-19 breakout.
A very basic introduction about the surgical mask and N95 respirator is presented earlier. Let’s discuss a little more to learn how these masks are helpful to protect us from getting coronavirus or COVID-19.
Surgical Face Masks
Surgical masks are flat and rectangular shape. These masks have to loosely fit around the nose, mount, and chin thus make of paper-like material. Most importantly, these face masks are the disposable masks to use for only one time. Thus, the user shouldn’t use the same mask multiple times and dispose of it as per prescribed instructions.
The surgical masks protect against splashes, sprays or large-particle droplets that may contain infectious particles or germs like viruses. As the mask covers the nose and mouth of the wearer. Thus, asthma patients use this mask regularly.
So, it prevents germs from reaching into the respiratory tract of a person. Furthermore, the surgical masks also somehow protect the respiratory secretions of patients released into the air when sneezed.
Although, some surgical masks also include a clear and wraparound shield to protect the area of cheeks, eyes, and forehead. Nowadays, people who are performing the coronavirus screening tests wear such masks as a barrier against the prolonged exposure to coronavirus patients.
It can be on any design or pattern and color. However, normally it’s a flat and rectangle shape with folds. There is a thin metal strip on one large edge of the rectangle. It is pressed against the nose for the proper sitting of the mask.
Furthermore, elastic bands are available to loop over the ears to hold the face mask in place. There are two faces of the mask. One side may have different color typically green. However, the other face is cloud white. The use of a mask is directional. So, please read the instructions in the section on how to use face masks.
Surgical masks don’t provide complete protection against the small particles in the air especially against particles released by the respiratory patients.
WHO Guidelines on How to use the Surgical Face Masks
The WHO has offered advice for the people on how to use face masks for protection against the vulnerable spread of coronavirus:
- Make sure the face mask isn’t intact and doesn’t have any tears or holes.
- Do wash your hands before touching the mask to put on. Also, WHO recommends washing the hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. However, the use of alcohol-based sanitizers is also helpful to kill the germs.
- Properly cover the nose and mouth with the surgical mask. Please make sure to left no gaps between the mask and the face.
- Don’t touch the mask while using it. As the front side of the mask contains infectious germs due to direct exposure to the environment.
- If you have mistakenly touched your mask. Immediately wash or sanitize your hands without touching your face, anyone else or any surface.
- Replace the mask when it gets damp, or slightly wet.
- Do not reuse the surgical mask as these are for one time use.
- Remove the mask by unlooping the elastic bands rather than touching the front face of the mask.
- Properly discard the mask, wash your hands and wear a new mask as per instruction given above.
The respirators are made of fine cloth-like material. It protects the wearer from inhaling the infectious germs. Moreover, the respirators’ masks aren’t loose-fitting masks like surgical masks. These masks have to fit properly to seal the inhaling of any air outside of the filter material.
The N95 respirator mask is useful for protection against viruses and bacteria. The WHO advises people with high exposure to respiratory disease patients to use an N95 respirator mask.
This mask can filter approx. This mask can filter approx. 95% of the small particles from the air inhaled for breathing. However, it can also useful against splashes, sprays, large droplets, or respiratory secretions. The N95 stands for “not resistant to oil” and “95% air filtration efficiency in the worst case”.
Working From Home? Zoom Extension for Chrome! Pictorial Guide to Download, Install and Use
The healthcare professionals design the N95 respirator mask to tightly fit on the face to seal the intake of air other than the mask filter. So, it has an oval or circle shape for proper fitting on the face.
The one-size of the N95 mask doesn’t fit all the people. As the mask has to properly fit on the face to form a seal against the breathing of leaked air. Furthermore, if air keeps on leaking from the sides of the mask instead of a filter. It can’t provide appropriate protection against the vulnerable risks.
Therefore, these face masks are designed accordingly to the face geometry. So, different shapes of the N95 masks are available in the market.
Moreover, even after selecting the best fitting face mask. The user has to perform a seal test on regular intervals to ensure the tight sealing of the mask. Once the mask loses its property of proper tight sealing. It should be discarded properly.
N95 Training and Fitting Course
The healthcare professional is trained to properly use N95 respiratory face masks. So, the institutes design the training course to deliver the skill on properly using and fitting respiratory face masks. The healthcare professional suggests qualitative fit testing to detect any leakage into the respirator face mask. It uses the wearers’ sense of taste or smell for detection purposes.
Homemade Cloth Face Masks
A lot of people are using homemade cloth face masks to protect themselves against the coronavirus. However, it is important to understand how face masks work to protect using for getting respiratory disease.
The cloth face masks are designed on the pattern of surgical face masks. It’s a loose-fitting and rectangular shape face mask. People are using cloth face masks as a reusable and washable face mask.
However, the face masks work to filter the air inhaled by the wearers. As surgical face masks are designed to filter the large-particle droplets. While the N95 respirator helps in the filtration of small-particle droplets as well.
On the other hand, the material of cloth face mask isn’t appropriate to work as a filter medium for the contaminated air. Therefore, the use of a cloth face mask doesn’t provide any protection against infectious particles or germs.
Furthermore, the material of cloth doesn’t even pass a single standard test for surgical masks production from fluid resistance, flammability, filtration efficiency, and biocompatibility.
Therefore, the WHO doesn’t recommend the use of homemade cloth face masks homemade for public or healthcare professionals.
Working From Home? Jitsi Meet | How to Free Download, Install and Use
A surgical mask is a loose-fitting disposable mask. It acts as a barrier between the wearer nose and mouth and the potential infectious particles or large-droplets. Moreover, people use the terms face mask mainly for the surgical masks. Although not all the face masks are surgical masks.
Furthermore, the edges of the surgical mask aren’t designed for tight-fitting and sealing. Thus, it doesn’t provide complete protection against small droplets. Moreover, the WHO just recommends it for the public who don’t have any direct or prolonged exposure to respiratory patients.
On the other hand, the N95 respirator is work on the principle of tight-fitting and sealing the gap between the face and the mask. So, all the inhaling air must pass through the N95 respiratory face mask filter. Thus, the N95 respirator is very helpful in protection against the airborne small particles.
It can filter the inhaling air up to 95% in the worst case. So, the WHO recommends the N95 mask for healthcare professionals with prolonged and direct exposure to respiratory patients.
There are few similarities among surgical and N95 respiratory face masks. Both these masks are disposable and shouldn’t be shared. Furthermore, healthcare professionals test these masks for fluid resistance, flammability, filtration efficiency, and biocompatibility.
For more details about the types of masks. Please read the following articles.
- Can Face Masks Protect You from the 2019 Coronavirus?
- Do Face Masks Work? Types and Effectiveness
- N95 Respirators and Surgical Masks (Face Masks)
Finally, it was all about “Types of Face Masks”. So, please do share your feedback in the comment section and SUBSCRIBE us to learn more about Coronavirus (COVID-19).
For more details and queries, feel free to Contact Us at any time. We value your suggestions and Looking forward to hearing from you.
Graphic Resources Credit: Designed by Freepik