In the particular case – novel coronavirus, people have rushed for different types of face masks to prevent infections. Although most health experts or even experts from CDC suggest that healthy people don’t have to wear a face mask, it is necessary to wear a face mask to protect themselves as the coronavirus outbreak around the world.
Lots of face masks like surgical face masks or N95 mask out there to choose from, but questions have sprung to your mind: Which type of face mask should I choose, how often should I change a face mask, and does the mask I wear actually work? Luckily for you, you can find answers to these questions and get more ideas about masks in the following parts.
Different Types of Face Masks
Non-medical Face Masks: Made of fabric, filter cotton or other materials, a non-medical face mask is a kind of sanitary product that prevents air from entering the mouth and nose and keep you away from the visible splash or spray of fluid or large droplets which is an ideal choice for daily life or working in construction sites, factories or other environments.
Surgical Face Masks: These kinds of masks are disposable medical masks which can block the splashes out of the mouth and nose from others, suitable for every day or health care activities, for example, sanitary cleaning or preventing against particles other than pathogenic microorganisms, such as flower powder and more.
KN95 Face Masks (Without Breathing Valve): A KN95 mask, which has passed the certification of China GB2626-2006, is designed to block no less than 95% of small airborne particles and bacteria when worn correctly. Moreover, it is very effective in the prevention and control of respiratory illnesses, such as SARS, influenza and the outbreak of new coronavirus and other poor air quality environments like haze.
N95 Face Masks (Without Breathing Valve): As long as the mask meets the N95 standard and is certified by NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health), it can be called an N95 mask or N95 respirator. These masks are capable of preventing the droplet infection caused by the splashes and sprays of body fluid or blood and keeping out germs and small airborne particles.
Does Your Face Mask Actually Work?
Lots of scientific evidence have shown that surgical or disposable face mask or KN95 (China GB2626-2006) or N95 (United States NIOSH-42CFR84) mask can effectively protect both yourself and others from becoming sick with the flu.
For self-protection in daily life, whether a non-medical, medical, N95 or KN95 face mask, can be worn. If you go to public places in an indoor or outdoor environment, a surgical mask should be worn to prevent infection. But if come in contact with sick patients or other patients who have lung or other respiratory illnesses, you must wear a KN95 or N95 mask.
Who Should Wear A Face Mask and What Type of Mask Should Wear?
Ordinary Citizens: None of infants, young children, and adults, the elderly or pregnant women need to wear a mask except during the seasons of influenza or other diseases. However, wearing a non-medical or medical face mask or a KN95 mask is a must-to-do thing of your list when you or other members of your family are catching a cold, having a fever, cough or other health issues.
If you are living in the place with a cold or flu outbreak, you should wear a medical face mask or KN95 mask when you’re out shopping or working.
Those who have serious lung, heart or other respiratory problems, for example, if you find it difficult to breathe on exertion, should consult your doctor before using a face mask for safety.
Healthcare Workers: Doctors, dentists, nurses or other workers must wear a medical mask or KN95 mask paired with a pair of goggles, a pair of disposable gloves, and a set of protective clothing to protect yourself from the infectious germs which you’re exposed to in clinics, hospitals or other medical centers.
Other Circumstances You Should Wear A Face Mask
- Go to the hospital
- Take a bus or subway
- Stay in a relatively closed or crowded space for a long time
- Your colleagues or classmates around you are catching a cold
- Contact with sick people
How to Wear A Face Mask Correctly? (Take a Medical Face Mask As an example)
Step 1: Wash your hands before touching the mask, then open the packages of the mask
Step 2: Judge the top and bottom, inner and outer side of the mask. Whether your medical mask is colored blue, pink or green, the colored side usually faces outwards. And the side with metal strap or nose clip should go upside.
Step 3: Pick up the mask with both hands and hang the two ear loops of the mask around your ears.
Step 4: Press the nose clip gently on the bridge of your nose with both hands to make the upper end of the mask close tightly to fit your nose.
Step 5: Stretch the mask up and down until it fully covers the nose and mouth and fits the face to avoid any gap between the mask and the face.
Step 6: Remember not to touch the front after using the mask. Be sure to fold it from the inside out, discard it properly and wash your hands with soap and water after taking off.
How Often Should You Replace A Face Mask?
For non-medical and medical masks, they should be thrown away after wearing for about 4 hours. Experts recommend that changing a mask immediately if the mask is moist, polluted or broken.
For KN95 or N95 masks, replace them after wearing for 8-10 hours. But it all depends on the situation. If you don’t have to wear the mask all day long and it is not broken or contaminated, the mask can be used longer.
Ph.D. MacIntyre from Australian has studied that not to wear any type of mask for prolonged periods as over time the masks will start to be home for dust, dirt or bacteria.
Can I Reuse My Face Mask?
The answer is NO. The infectious disease experts have said that any non-medical, surgical, KN95 or N95 mask can not be reused. Keep in mind that don’t use your face masks again after washing or disinfecting.
Wrap it Up
If you’re armed with the information above, it will be much easier to use a face mask correctly in your daily life. Strengthen the awareness of self-protection, develop good hygiene habits and choose quality face masks for you or your family to stay away from cold, flu or other infectious diseases, including COVID-19.