A year ago donning a face mask on the streets attracted many weird looks. Some people would’ve considered you were up to no good. Trying to show up at a bank with your nose and mouth covered elicited a bad reaction. That was before the COVID-19 had us all clamoring to get a mask for protection.
In some parts of the world today, stepping outside without a face mask is illegal. You might end up with a hefty fine or land in prison. The virus has shaken the world to its core. More measures other than social distancing and self-quarantine are being implemented.
Face masks are in high demand. Companies are working tirelessly to fill the void in the market. The highest in demand are surgical masks that are recommended by the World Health Organization. An acute shortage has many health facilities struggling to provide the best care to patients.
There are numerous types of face masks in the market today. All the different types, qualities, and designs keep the spread of the coronavirus at bay. Before you settle on just any mask, it’s best to understand what it’s made off. Not all the masks available can protect you from this deadly virus.
Types of Masks
As mentioned earlier, taking caution by wearing a mask is important in today’s world. It’s even illegal in some countries to walk around without one. There are three types of masks you shall come across in your search for the best one to use. They all serve an important purpose.
- N95 Respirator
This is a type of masks worn in many situations that require filtering of particulate matter. In the case of COVID 19, the mask will keep out the fluid discharged by a person infected by this virus. In case a patient sneezes it’s easy to infect another person. The N95 mask keeps out up to 95% of all airborne particles according to the FDA.
Globally this mask is in short supply and high demand. Even health care workers are finding it hard to access it. The shortage has forced some to reuse them despite it being against the code of conduct.
Caution is recommended for any person with a respiratory condition and wants to use the N95 masks. They make it difficult to breathe properly. You should first consult with your physician before you start using it regularly. A good option is to buy the type that comes with an exhalation valve. It makes it easier to breathe in and out while protecting you. The masks are only recommended for use by adults and not children. It means you must obtain another type for your child.
Before the COVID 19 pandemic, surgical masks were the preserve of medical practitioners including nurses, doctors, and other hospital staff. Today, this is no longer the case. The masks are widely used across the world and countries are mass producing them. As of April 2020, China exported over 3.8 billion to many regions of the world.
The masks are effective in protecting you from the virus though not 100%. Still, they are a better precaution than not covering yourself at all. The masks are made using a non-woven fabric. The fabric is made using the process known as melt blowing. They came into effect in the 1960s when they replaced cloth masks.
Like many other essential medical supplies, surgical masks are in short supply in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. Most people prefer them for their comfortable fit. Since it’s mandatory to cover your face today, a face mask that isn’t uncomfortable is important. The surgical masks have a loose-fitting. They help keep harmful particulates from reaching your nose and mouth.
The mask has three layers by design to filter out all harmful particles from the air you breathe in. The one disadvantage to keep in mind with this type of mask is it doesn’t filter out small particles. Only the larger ones are kept at bay. Always wear the mask when stepping outside and discard it after use. It’s not advisable to reuse it. Still, this is easier said than done considering the shortage in supply.
What to Look for When Buying Surgical Face Masks
- The Fit
Surgical face masks of all sizes are being mass-produced and sold across the world. Countries like China are exporting billions across the world. When you research the best mask to buy, think of the fit. The truth is you should wear it all day especially if you must leave the house. A mask that doesn’t fit properly is uncomfortable and might cause more harm than good.
Can you breathe in the mask that you are currently wearing? Even if you must wear the mask all day, you still must breathe right? The best surgical mask covers your nose and mouth while enabling you to breathe. If you can’t breathe in it then it’s not the best surgical mask for you.
- The Size
Apart from a good fit, buy a surgical mask that is your correct size. To be the correct size, the mask must cover your nose and mouth comfortably. No pulling to cover one and the other is left exposed. Buy a mask that is the right size for you or your child for ample protection.
- Filtration Efficiency
How effective is the mask you are currently wearing? Research on the filtration efficiency and only buy the best in the market. An 80% and above efficiency is recommended for surgical face masks. Anything lower than that leaves you exposed to the harmful airborne particulates.
What materials is the surgical mask made of? Are any of those materials harmful or are you allergic to any of them? Not every surgical mask in the market is right for you. The mask is meant to protect you and not cause more harm. Only buy a mask that has the materials it’s made of listed by the manufacturer.
Everyone needs to cover their faces in today’s world. The COVID 19 pandemic has made this a necessity and not the preserve of medical professionals only. Getting the right type of mask is important. Surgical masks are the most popular since they are affordable as compared to N95 masks.