Frequently asked questions on face masks center around their efficiency in preventing infectious respiratory diseases and how they should be used appropriately. In this article, we provide answers to some of these recurring questions. We believe that reading through to the end of this page will enlighten you on how you can use face masks appropriately and reduce your risk of contracting respiratory tract diseases.
Faces masks, when properly worn, protect the wearer from droplets in the external environment. Some of these droplets bear disease-causing pathogens such as the coronavirus. A face mask also limits the spread of droplets from the nose and mouth of the wearer, thereby reducing the risk of transmitting infections to others. In essence, a facemask prevents infections from flu and coronaviruses by protecting the wearer from contaminated droplets and reducing the spread of disease from an infected individual.
What are the Different Types of Face Masks?
Face masks are usually classified into surgical masks, cloth masks, and respirators. Surgical masks are disposable fabric masks that filter out large particles from the air the wearer breathes out or breathes in. Cloth masks are made of cloth fabrics and are designed to be reusable. Cloth masks may not be as effective at filtering out particles as medical masks. On the other hand, they absorb any droplets that fall from the external and internal surfaces. Once they begin to get wet, cloth masks should be replaced; otherwise, their ability to trap drops will be compromised.
Respirators are protective devices against hazardous inhalable materials. The most common types of respirator face masks are the FFP 1, FFP 2, FFP 3, KN95, and N95. N95 respirators are reserved solely for health workers. Respirators are better than fabric masks in that they fit snugly on the face and therefore form a seal over the wearer’s nose and mouth.
Face masks may come with valves that make breathing in easier. However, these kinds of masks are not effective in filtering droplets the wearer breathes out. Therefore, they put the wearer at risk of infecting others if they are positive for a respiratory disease but are still asymptomatic.
How to Use a Face Mask?
Wearing a face mask requires washing your hands with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer. Take out your clean face mask and tie the straps or pull the loops around your head to secure it. Before removing your face mask, it is a good idea to wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer. Be careful to avoid touching your face with the external surface of the mask. Once you’ve used the mask, throw it away and use hand sanitizer immediately. If you use disposable masks, you should discard them after taking them off or when it becomes wet or dirty. It is recommended to wash cloth masks after each use.
Do Face Masks Expire?
Healthcare authorities think it is still safe to wear a face mask a few weeks after they have expired. An expired face mask will still offer some level of protection against disease-causing pathogens and face mask suppliers like The Kare Lab usually include expiry dates in their face masks.
Nevertheless, using face masks when they have expired puts the wearer at risk as the materials used in producing the face mask may have lost their integrity in preventing infection.
Can You Reuse Face Masks?
Cloth masks are washable and reusable. Other kinds of medical masks are mostly meant to be disposed of after a single-use. If you are considering face masks that you can reuse, then you should go for cloth masks. A good cloth mask is made of three layers of close-woven fabric. Also, ensure the face mask fits around your face so that there are no spaces for droplets to pass through to cause infection.
Are Face Shields as Effective as Masks?
When face shields are used properly, they can offer some degree of protection from infectious respiratory diseases. Faces shields prevent liquid splashes and contaminated droplets from reaching the eyes, nose, and mouth. They also limit the transmission of droplets from the wearer when he / she speaks, coughs, or sneezes. However, face shields may still allow wind transmissible pathogens in through the open spaces around a person’s face. Therefore, they should be used together with face masks to offer optimum protection. It is also worthy of note that the CDC does not include face shields in its list of protective wears against respiratory infections.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the use of facemasks as protection against contacting infectious respiratory tract diseases such as the flu and coronavirus. Face masks reduce the risk of infection by preventing the wearers’ exposure to disease-causing pathogens.
There are stipulated guidelines on what types of face masks to wear and how to use them. Although face shields are recognized to provide some level of protection against respiratory infections, they are not recommended for use by the CDC.