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What You Need To Know About Medical Face Masks

To make sure you and others have a solid defence from COVID-19, medical agencies and institutions recommend that you wear a protective mask that fits well and that you will wear consistently.

In general, people are not required to wear masks outdoors. However, in areas of substantial or high risk of transmission, it is recommended for people to wear a mask when in continued close contact with other people, especially if:

  • They or someone they live with has a weak immune system.
  • They haven’t been up to date with their vaccination from COVID-19 and are with someone who is likewise not up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccine.

On the other hand, you must wear a mask in indoor public places.

However, people with a health condition or taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be protected even if they already had their COVID-19 vaccine shot. It is recommended that they continue to take every precaution, including wearing a well-fitting mask at all times until otherwise advised by their healthcare provider.

4 Types of Masks and How Effective They Are

1. Store-Bought Cloth Mask

The protective factor of a store-bought cloth mask will depend on its construction. According to medical experts, a cloth mask must have at least three layers of fabric constructed from a tight weave of 100% cotton.

In many cases, a cloth face mask provides 50% protection, whereas a high-quality mask could be 80%-95% protective. But even a low-quality mask made of thin materials could still give 10%-20% protection.

2. Cloth Masks with Filter

Some store-bought masks are designed with filter pockets. You can also construct cloth masks with a pocket for a filter. You can improvise and utilise folded facial tissues as a filter by placing the folded tissue into the pocket. You only need to make sure to change the tissue filter daily.

Epidemiologists recommend the use of a filter of polypropylene material. This is a type of durable synthetic fabric often utilised in upholstery. It holds an electrostatic charge, which enables it to trap tiny particles. Incorporating a polypropylene filter into a dual-layer cloth mask increases filtration efficiency from 35% up to 70%.

3. Disposable Surgical Face Mask

Disposable surgical face masks are thin and paper-like masks that come in white and light blue colours. According to an Aerosol Science and Technology study published in 2013, a surgical face mask filters about 60% of small inhaled particles. This mask is designed to stop droplets, sprays and splatters. Studies have demonstrated that conscientiously wearing a surgical face mask in outdoor spaces can dramatically reduce the spread of respiratory disease.

4. N95, KN95 and Other Respirators

N95 face respirators provide an optimum barrier against the novel coronavirus and other respiratory diseases. The N95 masks filter up to 95% of particulate matter from air breathed in.

How to Maximise the Effectiveness of Your Facemask

You can enhance the effectiveness of cloth and medical face masks by ensuring it is fitted to the contours of your face to block leakage of air around the edges of the mask.

The mask should sit snugly over your nose, mouth and chin. Make sure there are no gaps. Also, determine if you feel warm air coming through the front of the mask when you breathe. You must not sense any air coming out under the mask’s edges. You should also select a mask with a bendable nose strip to prevent air from leaking out of the top area of the mask.

Masks with several layers provide maximum protection. Some people wear a medical face mask beneath their cloth mask. In this case, the cloth mask must press the edges of the medical face mask against your face. Don’t add layers if it makes it difficult for you to breathe or impedes your vision. Moreover, avoid using another mask with a KN95 or N95 mask.

Frequently Asked Questions

Fabric masks must consist of three layers of fabric. The inner layer must be made of absorbent material like cotton. The middle layer of the mask is nonwoven and non-absorbent and must be made of polypropylene material. The outer part of this non-absorbent layer must be made of polyester or polyester blend.

Tie or secure the mask snugly around your ears or behind your head. Ensure it fits comfortably, not too tight or too loose. There must be no gaps around the edges, and the mask should not restrict your breathing. Furthermore, check if the mask fully covers vulnerable areas of your face, such as your mouth, nose and chin.

Avoid touching your mask. If you want to adjust or remove your mask, use the ear loops when possible instead of the front part of the mask. You should also wash or sanitise your hands in these three instances: before putting your mask on, after taking off the mask and after touching your mask.

Carefully wipe the inside of your face shield using a wipe or clean cloth moistened with a detergent solution. Afterwards, wipe the straps and the outer part of the shield. Wipe the face shield thoroughly with clean water to remove residue if you used a detergent solution. Air-dry the face shield and store it properly.

Final Thoughts

Masks are a crucial defence to preventing transmission and saving lives. Depending on the mask’s design, a mask can be utilised to protect a healthy person, prevent transmission or both.

Wearing a snug and well-fitting facemask should be part of a comprehensive solution, including physical distancing, avoiding close contact, ensuring good ventilation of inner spaces, sanitising your hands regularly and covering coughs and sneezes.

If you need a reliable medical device and PPE supplier for your face mask needs, contact us at Dexcon. We supply premium medical devices and other PPE products, such as face masks, surgical gowns, medical face shields, COVID-19 antigen rapid test kits and more, for the medical, industrial and retail sectors in Australia and around the world.

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