In early 2020, after December 2019, after an outbreak in China, the World Health Organization identified COVID 19 as a type of coronavirus. The outbreak quickly spread all around the world affecting many countries. This infection spreads the same way other coronaviruses do, majorly through person-to-person contact.
Amidst all this, for the first time, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has suggested that even seemingly healthy people wear masks over their mouths and noses when wandering out of their homes into places where it is hard to keep up with the current social distancing norms. But there is still big debate over how much masks — especially the homemade fabric masks that CDC recommends for the general public— can slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the infection that causes COVID 19.
One study analyzed the impact of masks on coronaviruses and found that masks are useful at lessening how much virus a sick person spreads. Experts say that masks might help keep people with COVID 19 from unknowingly passing along the virus.
COVID 19 America’s death toll is higher than anywhere else in the world—and is continuing to rise. Most Americans expect a COVID 19 vaccine within a year but until then we need to protect ourselves and take the necessary precautions and wearing a mask in one of them.
The Three Primary Types Of Face Masks
When we talk about face masks for COVID 19 prevention, there are generally three types of masks:
- Homemade cloth fabric face mask
- Surgical mask
- N95 respirator
Homemade Cloth Fabric Masks
To keep the transmission of the infection from people without symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is presently suggesting that everybody wears cloth face masks such as homemade masks.
The recommendation is for when you are out in the open where it becomes difficult to maintain a 6-foot distance from others. Recommendations include:
- Wear cloth fabric face masks in public settings, particularly in areas of significant community-based transmission, for example, supermarkets and pharmacies.
- Try not to put cloth face masks on babies under 2 years of age, people who experience difficulty breathing, people who are unconscious, or people who cannot remove the face mask on their own.
- Try to use cloth face masks rather than surgical or N95 respirators, as these basic supplies must be reserved for healthcare services workers and other medical first responders.
- Healthcare experts should practice extreme caution when using homemade face masks. These masks ought to ideally used in combination with a face shield that covers the whole front and sides of the face and reaches out to the chin or below.
Benefits of Wearing Homemade Masks
- They keep you from nonchalantly touching your nose or mouth.
- They direct some or possibly most of your respiratory droplets away from anyone you are speaking to directly.
- They decrease at least a small amount of the number of respiratory droplets you may be exposed to.
- Your homemade mask is yours to keep, clean, and protect. Wash it daily in hot, soapy water, and clean your hands before putting it on and again when you take it off.
Surgical masks are disposable, loose-fitting face masks that cover your nose, mouth, and chin. These masks are typically used to:
- Protect the wearer from sprays, splashes, and large-particle droplets
- Prevent the transmission of potentially infectious respiratory secretions from the wearer to others
These types of masks can vary in design, but the mask itself is often flat and rectangular in shape with pleats or folds. The top of the mask has a metal strip that can be formed to your nose.
Elastic bands or long, straight ties help hold a surgical mask in place while you are wearing it. These can either be looped behind your ears or tied behind your head.
An N95 respirator is a tight-fitting face mask. In addition to splashes, sprays, and large droplets, this respirator can also filter out 95 percent of very small particles. This includes viruses and bacteria.
The respirator itself is generally circular or oval in shape and is designed to form a tight seal to your face. Flexible bands help hold it firmly to your face.
Some may have an attachment called an exhalation valve, which can help with breathing and the development of heat and humidity.
N95 respirators are not one-size-fits-all. They really should be fit-tried before use to ensure that a perfect seal is formed. If the mask does not seal viably to your face, you won’t get the required protection.
How To Use A Mask?
There are certain precautions that should be taken when using a mask:
- Remove the mask from the packaging and apply it to the face by holding it only by the ties.
- Make sure you put it on right side out with the strip up at the nose. In general, the information printed on the mask by the manufacturer should be displayed on the outside. If there is no specific indication, the most padded side should be applied to the face.
- Position the upper ties on the top of the head and the lower ties at the neck level. The mask must be properly unfolded.
- The mask should cover the nose, mouth, and chin. In the case of respirators, it is possible to check that the mask fits properly by closing the filter surface with your hands and inhaling slowly. If the mask tends to crush against the face it is well placed, otherwise, it is incorrectly placed and leaks.
- Once the mask is in place, it should not be touched or repositioned (except during removal).
- If the mask is single-use, once the mask has been removed it should be disposed of immediately in the appropriate manner.
- The mask should be changed regularly: at least every three hours for a surgical mask (or before if it has been soiled by splashes) and between three and eight hours for a respirator.
- You should wash your hands before and after each mask change.