With the coronavirus pandemic in all its rage, masks have become a new normal. Face masks work well in helping slow the infection of (SARS-CoV-2) by stopping the air droplets of a person to reach another person.
The frequent question that pops up in every mind is that can mask especially surgical mask provide enough protection against the coronavirus?
Well, the simplest answer to that is yes, masks along with other precautionary measures like physical distancing and frequent hand-washing can help a lot in slowing the virus to spread. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that masks are mandatory for the public to be worn.
Surgical or fabric masks work alright for common people whereas health care workers should use N95 masks as they are surrounded by such cases all the time.
WHO recommends that masks should be worn by everyone such as the general public, health workers, or the people who are taking care of someone with COVID. Medical masks are also recommended for people who come in higher-risk groups like older people and people having complex health issues.
How various kinds of masks prevent COVID?
Let’s see how different masks work to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Surgical or medical masks are a disposable loose-fitting device which makes a physical blockade between the nose and mouth of its wearer and any potential contaminants present in the surrounding environment. These masks have been regulated under the 21 CFR 878.4040.
An important point to remember is that these masks cannot be shared with anyone. The label of these masks can be a medical procedure, dental, isolation, or surgical. The masks can come along with a face shield or maybe no shield. Most people call them a face mask but these masks are actually regulated by the name of surgical masks.
Medical masks vary in their thickness and have the varying ability to keep you safe from any liquid contact. These characteristics affect a lot the ease of breathing while wearing a mask and it matters a lot in how well these masks can protect a person.
When a medical mask is properly worn, it can block large particle splatter, sprays, splashes, and droplets which may have germs like bacteria and viruses. The mask keeps them from reaching the nose and mouth. Medical masks can also lessen your respiratory secretions and saliva exposure to other people around you.
But a medical mask can be effective for blocking droplets and splashes, face mask does not have the ability to block smaller particles present in the environment which gets transmitted by sneezes, coughs, and other such ways. And the fact s that surgical masks may not be able to provide foolproof protection from contaminants and germs if the mask is loose on your face.
Medical masks cannot be used again and again as they are meant to be discarded after a single-use. If the mask becomes soiled or damaged or you cannot breathe through this mask, you should remove it and discard it safely. Then replace this mask with a new mask.
This mask is kind of a respirator. The mask offers more safety than the surgical masks as it filters all small and large particles for the wearer. As N95 masks supply is short, it is better to reserve them for the health workers. N95 masks are also required to be disposed of but researchers are also trying to find a way to reuse them by disinfecting.
Some cloth masks and N95 masks have valves. These halves make it easier to breathe through them. However, they do not filter that air which the person breathes out. This is why they are banned in a few dwellings.
The purpose of a cloth mask is to trap the droplets from respiration which are released through sneeze, cough, or talking. The mask acts as the barrier for protecting people from inhaling other people’s droplets. A good cloth mask has multiple tightly woven fabric layers for good protection.
You can also use a Custom Seamless Bandana if you have no mask available as any face covering is better than no face covering at all.
How can you get maximum protection from a surgical mask?
To get the best results from a surgical mask, you need to make sure that your mask fits well with your face contouring so that no air can leak from the edges of the mask. A proper mask needs to be snugged over your chin, mouth, and nose with no air gap.
How will you know if you have worn your mask properly? It’s while breathing out you should have a feeling of warm air coming and no air should be coming under mask corners. Many surgical masks come with a nose strip that can bend. These masks are better as the strip is to ensure that no air can escape from the mask top.
Some people also wear cloth masks with disposable masks underneath them. You can do that but if you have difficulty in breathing then a cloth mask is enough. Masks also get affected by how properly you use, clean, or store them.
Here are a few steps you should follow to wear or take off the surgical mask:
- Sanitize or wash hands then put your mask on your face.
- Place mask properly over nose, mouth, and chin.
- Mask can be tied behind ear loops or the head.
- When you are wearing it, do not touch it.
- If you touch the mask accidentally then sanitize or wash your hands instantly.
- If the mask becomes dirty or wet, switch it with a new one.
- While taking off the mask, make sure that you do not touch it from the face part.
- After removing the mask, wash your hands instantly.
I hope this article helped you in understanding that a surgical mask can absolutely protect you from COVID if you follow some other precautions like social distancing.