Since COVID-19 struck the whole world, face masks have been used drastically to protect oneself and the people around us. It is indeed one of the best ways to lessen the transmission of the virus we are all facing today. Many governments and health agencies have mandated its use, and different types have emerged since the pandemic happened.
Cloth masks, the most affordable mask for the general public
These masks are said to be the most cost-efficient because they can be washed and reused by the users. Cloth-typed masks help trap the droplets released by the person wearing them – hence, the microorganisms present in the exhaled respiratory particles are trapped. Thus, if the person wearing the cloth mask is a carrier, wearing this type of face mask could help reduce the risk of spreading the virus to other people.
Cloth masks have also proved their efficacy and efficiency in protecting the user from contracting the virus. It is known to filter both large and fine particles not smaller than 10 microns. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), human experiments have proved that this type of mask may reach up to 80% blockage of the respiratory droplets.
Its filtration capacity also increases depending on the number of layers, along with the thread count manufactured. Current studies revealed that cloth masks with a higher thread count consisting of multiple layers of water-resistant fabric may be more effective in preventing the transmission of COVID-19.
However, healthcare workers and other high-risk individuals should only use cloth masks as a last resort when surgical masks and N95 masks are not available. The general public may use this type of face mask for their protection.
Surgical masks, the best option for workers and potential carriers
These single-use masks are one of the most common masks used against the fight of COVID-19 today. This is designed to protect the user from contracting the virus from other people, and it also prevents the transmission of the virus if the user is the carrier himself. It covers the surface from the nose until the chin.
This type of mask is composed of 3 layers that work to prevent the transmission of small particles. They are made of fibrous, flat, and non-woven materials interlaced together. These interlacing fibers form the barrier that prevents the entry and exit of respiratory particles.
The efficacy of surgical masks also depends on the fiber’s thickness and diameter because this determines the filtration properties of a surgical mask. Another important factor to consider when using a surgical mask is ensuring its proper fit on the face. The topmost part of the mask consists of a metal strip that helps secure the face mask when worn.
Surgical masks are recommended to healthcare workers under the clinical setting, people displaying signs and symptoms of the virus, people who came in contact with a positive person, and individuals caring for suspected cases.
People with a higher risk of contracting the virus should wear 3-ply surgical masks, while wearing face shield with surgical masks could be even more protective against the SARS-CoV-2, for high-risk individuals.
N95 masks should be kept for healthcare and medical workers
N95 masks are respirators that offer the most protection against COVID-19 when compared to cloth masks and surgical masks. The fit of N95 masks is one of the most important factors to be considered when using it. Since it tightly adheres to the face of the user, the entry and exit of the respiratory particles are filtered better. Maximum protection from the virus is given.
It is known to filter both large and small particles. N95 masks can filter up to 95% of airborne particles sized around 0.1 to 0.3 microns. Hence, it is an effective shield against the virus we are facing today.
N95 masks should not be shared with another person and must not be reused to prevent the possibility of spreading the virus, especially nowadays. People with comorbidities such as respiratory and cardiac conditions should consult their physicians before using this type of mask.
According to the guidelines released by the CDC, the use of N95 masks is not advised for the general public. Its supply is critical, and it must be prioritized for the health care workers who are exposed to the virus every day in the clinical setting. Other medical first responders may also use this type of mask.
All face masks are designed to help combat COVID-19, but to give yourself the best protection, choose the perfect and most suitable face mask for you. This can save your life, along with the lives of thousands of people.