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Surgical masks play a crucial role in preventing the spread of infectious diseases. For years, healthcare professionals have used them to keep both patients and themselves safe from harmful microorganisms. In recent times, surgical masks have become more frequent in public settings, especially during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The need for surgical masks in Australia has increased as COVID-19 cases has increased abruptly. The government suggests that people wear masks when physical distancing is difficult and in closed public places. Surgical masks limit the spread of the virus by capturing droplets expelled when talking, coughing or sneezing. 

The significance of surgical masks cannot be overemphasised. They serve a vital function in controlling the spread of infectious diseases and maintaining public health. By wearing a surgical mask, individuals can protect themselves and others from COVID-19 and other illnesses. 

The Science Behind Surgical Masks

So what are surgical masks made of? The science behind surgical masks revolves around two main concepts: filtration and fluid resistance. The filtration process stops the particles and droplets from passing through the mask. Surgical masks consist of layers of non-woven materials like polypropylene and polyester, which act as filters that capture harmful pathogens such as viruses and bacteria.

Fluid resistance refers to the mask’s ability to prevent liquids, such as saliva or blood, from penetrating through its material. It is essential in medical settings where healthcare workers may come into contact with bodily fluids during procedures. Surgical masks are created to meet specific fluid resistance standards, like ASTM F1862, to ensure they offer adequate protection to the wearer.

Aside from filtration and fluid resistance, a proper mask fit is also crucial. A mask that doesn’t fit well may not provide adequate protection, as particles and droplets can still enter through gaps between the mask and the face. It is crucial to choose a surgical mask that fits properly and to follow guidelines on how to wear it correctly, like avoiding touching the front of the mask and wearing it consistently.

The History Of Surgical Masks

In Australia, the history of using surgical masks dates back to the early 1900s when doctors and nurses first employed them during surgeries to stop the transmission of illnesses. In response to the Spanish flu pandemic that claimed an estimated 50 million lives worldwide in the 1920s and 1930s, masks became more widespread. During World War II, military personnel used masks to guard against gas attacks, leading to the general use of masks.

After the war, the use of surgical masks declined but saw a resurgence in the 1960s and 1970s during another flu pandemic. In the early 2000s, the SARS outbreak in Australia prompted a revival in the use of surgical masks, with medical professionals and the general public using them as a precautionary measure against the virus.

Surgical masks today are made of various materials. With the COVID-19 outbreak, the use of surgical masks in Australia has again become common, with the government encouraging the citizens to wear masks in certain situations to slow down the spread of the virus.

Advantages of Wearing Surgical Masks

Now that you know what are surgical masks made of, take a look into their advantages. Here are the main benefits of wearing surgical masks:

  1. Protection against infectious diseases 
By wearing a surgical mask, you can prevent the spread of airborne infectious diseases like the coronavirus. The mask acts like a shield that captures droplets carrying the virus, reducing the likelihood of infection when in contact with infected people.

  1. Prevention of droplet spread
Surgical masks also help to contain respiratory droplets that may contain harmful viruses or bacteria. When someone talks, coughs or sneezes, they expel tiny droplets that can spread in the air. A surgical mask reduces the chance of these droplets reaching others and spreading the infection.

  1. Barrier against environmental pollutants: 
In addition, surgical masks can act as a barrier against environmental pollutants, such as dust and small particles. It can protect you from inhaling harmful substances, especially in heavily polluted urban areas.

Common Misconceptions About Surgical Masks

In Australia, since the emergence of COVID-19, surgical masks have become a common sight. Despite being widely encouraged as a way to limit the spread of the virus, some misunderstandings about these masks persist among the public.

One incorrect belief is that a surgical mask guarantees complete protection from the virus. Whilst they help reduce droplets’ spread, they do not provide absolute immunity. Use a surgical mask in combination with other preventive measures like hand washing and maintaining a physical distance to maximize protection.

Another false notion is that surgical masks are only necessary for healthcare workers. Although healthcare workers need a higher level of protection, non-healthcare professionals also need to wear masks in crowded public areas to decrease the spread of the virus and safeguard those most vulnerable.

Dexcon | Leading Medical Device and PPE Supplier in Australia

The COVID-19 pandemic has made surgical masks a daily necessity. Masks play a crucial role in slowing the spread of the virus and protecting our health and the health of those around us. Knowing the basics about a surgical mask, including the different types available, their advantages and correct usage, is important to maximise efficiency. 

As a leading provider in Australia, Dexcon offers a range of high-quality medical devices and PPE to cater to the needs of various sectors, including medical, industrial and retail. With an emphasis on quality and customer satisfaction, we provide expert consulting and procurement services for clients worldwide. Contact us for more details about our products.