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Since the COVID-19 pandemic, people have realised the importance of masks. Previously, masks were worn in polluted cities to protect the lungs from air pollution or by medical professionals whilst treating patients or performing operations.  

With the COVID pandemic, everyone has started using masks as it is the most effective and cheapest way to protect themselves from the COVID-19 virus. This has led to the development of various types of masks on the market, making it difficult for people to differentiate between them. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is still not over. It is still prevailing in most parts of the world, and even new variants are emerging. This is why it is critical to understand the different types of masks in order to make an informed decision when purchasing them. 

Read this article to learn about the types of masks and how to choose the right one.

Types Of Masks and Their Usage

  • Medical masks

Medical masks are popularly known as surgical masks. They are often used by medical professionals or surgeons whilst treating patients. These are disposable, loose-fitting masks designed to protect the user from sprays and contact droplets containing germs. 

Surgical masks eliminate large particles in the air when the user breathes it in. It is advisable to knot the mask string on the ear loops and fold and tuck the extra material under the edges to make it more fitted. 

  • N95 masks or P2 masks

N95 is the most popular mask made per U.S. quality standards. It provides the best protection amongst all of the masks. It is more protective than a medical mask because it eliminates both small and large particles. Ordinary people can use non-surgical N95. However, surgical N95 is reserved for medical professionals as they are more prone to infection. These masks are also required to be disposed of after use. 

A P2 mask is similar to an N95 mask in that it is designed to filter out particulates from the air. P2 masks are commonly used in Australia and are considered equivalent to N95 masks in terms of filtration efficiency. Both P2 and N95 masks are designed to filter out at least 95% of airborne particles, including dust, mists, and fumes.

P2 and N95 masks only have very minor differences and are very similar to one another. This is brought on by the disparity in testing and certification procedures between the US and Australia. On the level of respiratory protection offered to wearers, the classification systems have essentially no effect.

But the question is, are P2 masks reusable? P2 masks are designed for single use and are not meant to be reusable. They are designed to form a tight seal around the face to prevent air from leaking through the sides of the mask. This tight seal can become compromised over time, especially if the mask becomes wet or soiled. When this happens, the mask is no longer able to effectively filter out the particulates that it is meant to protect against, making it less effective.

So if you are wondering, are p2 masks reusable, take note that these masks cannot be used forever. You will need to dispose of it when the time comes. 

  • KN95 masks

KN95 masks are a type of respirator that is designed as per international standards. This provides more protection than a surgical mask because it eliminates small and large particles from entering the user’s lungs. However, you must be careful when purchasing a KN95 mask and ensure that it is made as per the quality standards.

  • Cloth masks

The use of cloth masks by Australians is primarily for personal protection and as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19. Cloth masks can help to reduce the spread of the virus by trapping droplets that are released when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes.

Cloth masks are also more accessible and affordable compared to other types of masks, such as N95 and P2 masks, which are in high demand and short supply during the pandemic. They are also easier to obtain, and many Australians can make them at home using materials they already have. Additionally, cloth masks are considered to be a more sustainable option and can be washed and reused multiple times.

The Australian government and health authorities have recommended the use of cloth masks as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19, particularly in situations where social distancing is difficult to maintain, such as on public transportation or in crowded spaces. It’s important to note that cloth masks are not as effective as medical-grade masks in filtering out particles, and they may not protect the wearer as well as P2 and N95 masks. However, they still provide some level of protection, and their use can help to reduce the spread of the virus.

How to Use a Mask Effectively

If a cloth mask or a surgical mask is not worn properly, they will be ineffective. Their effectiveness can be increased by ensuring that they are properly fitted to the shape of the face, preventing air leakage around the mask edges. 

Masks should adequately cover the nose, chin and mouth, and there should not be any gaps. You should feel the warm air coming from your nose whilst you breathe out. However, you should not feel any air coming in from the sides of the mask. Choose a mask with flexible nose strips when making your purchase to avoid air leaks. 

Additionally, multi-layered masks offer the best protection. Some people prefer to wear a surgical mask underneath their cloth mask for added protection. In these circumstances, the surgical mask’s edges should be pressed against the face by the edges of the cloth mask. Don’t add a mask layer underneath N95 or KN95 if you use them. Also, it’s critical to store and clean the mask properly.

How To Choose a Suitable Mask

Aside from knowing if P2 masks are reusable, you need to choose a suitable mask to ensure proper protection.

Here are a few factors you should consider when purchasing masks. 

  • Multiple Layers of Fabric

Masks with multiple layers of fabric provide the best protection, even from the coronavirus. So when purchasing masks, make sure they are made up of multiple layers. 

  • Go for Elastic Ear Loops

People often ignore this point whilst purchasing a mask. However, face masks with elastic ear loops are easy to use and can be tied behind the head. 

  • Proper Fit

Wearing a mask is not just enough; you should wear it properly. This is why you should choose a mask that fits properly and is comfortable to wear for an extended period of time. If the mask is not well-fitted to your face, it will not provide the protection you want. Thus, make sure to choose a mask with no gaping from the sides.

  • Easy Breathing

The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled people to wear masks, especially when they step out of the house. As a result, selecting a mask that does not cause difficulty breathing is critical. Masks with breathable fabrics should be considered. 

  • Reusable

Covid has made it mandatory to use masks regularly. However, it is not possible to buy a new mask every time. Choosing a mask that can be reused after cleaning and sterilisation will save you money. 

Dexcon | Leading Medical Device and PPE Supplier in Australia

Dexcon is one of the leading PPE and medical device solution providers for governments, corporations, wholesalers and individuals who need PPE and medical devices for professional or commercial use. If you are looking for a one-stop solution for PPE kits, P2 masks, surgical masks or any other medical devices, contact us here today.