Most nations have made it mandatory for individuals to wear face masks in public areas, stores, shops, and even restaurants. However, a large number of people still don’t believe in the protection potential of these pieces.
Irrespective of divided opinions on facemasks, it’s no doubt they help reduce virus transmission rates, especially in crowded places. The virus particles are suspended in large numbers in the bodily fluids of an infected individual’s respiratory system, including the nose and lungs.
The best face masks help to prevent the spread of the virus when a patient or carrier sneezes, coughs, or speaks. Furthermore, some face masks also protect uninfected individuals from inhaling contaminated particles. With this mind, let’s explore how different face masks work.
Types of Protection: How Effective are Face Masks?
The cost of treating COVID-19 remains exceptionally high, and scientists may likely take longer than expected to come up with a corresponding vaccine. Undoubtedly, prevention remains the best option.
Wearing a face mask for virus protection is one of the primary measures recommended by medical experts to curb the spread of the virus.
There are three principal types of face masks, namely surgical, N95, and cloth face masks.
Surgical masks are FDA-approved masks used mainly by health practitioners. These medical-grade masks guard against airborne particles from other people, especially those from coughs and sneezes.
The CDC-certified N95 respirator mask protects you from both small and large particles, so they’re the most comprehensive for respiratory system protection. However, the scarcity of N95 and surgical masks makes cloth face mask the ideal solution for the majority of members of the public.
Cloth face masks are readily available, and one can make them easily using standard materials such as a bandana, t-shirt, or cotton fabric. The higher the thread count of these materials, the higher their virus protection factor.
Bear in mind that about 6%-18% of infected individuals are asymptomatic carriers. It may take 5-14 days for these individuals to show COVID-19 symptoms, with some not showing any signs at all. However, they can still spread the virus during the asymptomatic stage, pointing to the challenge of suppressing the virus transmission.
However, if everybody, including the asymptomatic individuals, wears cloth masks in public places, the amount of virus in the environment can be reduced substantially. This goes a long way to minimize the spread and infections.
Many businesses are now offering cloth face masks with designs and patterns including custom face mask options.
It should be noted that wearing masks for virus protection is not a substitute but should be used in conjunction with other critical measures such as hand washing and social distancing.
Tips for Using Face Masks Properly
Face masks can only be effective when worn frequently and properly. Keep in mind the following guidelines for correct mask usage.
- Always wear a mask in public settings
- The mask should fit snugly against your chin, mouth, and nose. Position the strings or look for the proper length of loops to achieve a snug fit.
- Avoid touching the face mask while wearing it; otherwise, sanitize or wash your hands when you touch the piece accidentally.
- Don’t touch your face when removing your cloth face mask. Nor should you touch the front of the mask.
- Always wash your hands thoroughly after removing your face mask.
- Dispose of a surgical or N95 mask after each use.
- Wash your cloth face mask with water and soap after each use.
Note that a face mask is not suitable for children under two years, individuals with breathing difficulties, and people who cannot remove them without help.
Face masks are undoubtedly at the center of the COVID-19 prevention campaign. But individuals need to use them properly for them to remain useful in the war against virus transmission.
Although face masks are quite promising, we must remember that it’s essential for people to also implement other prevention measures, such as social distancing and handwashing, to keep the virus spread and infections at bay.