How To Use A Face Mask Correctly | The N95 Respirator

Filed in Health by on August 29, 2021 0 Comments

The importance of face mask can not be overly emphasized especially in this perilous time in which the world is facing a ravaging pandemic of COVID19. But can surgical face mask keep one from contracting this virus or disseminating it to others?

In this article, we are going to highlight the importance of surgical face mask,  correct way of using it as well as disposing of it. Read along with us as we unroll them.

What Is A Surgical Face Mask?

A surgical face mask is also known as a procedure mask, medical mask, isolation mask, laser mask, fluid-resistant masks, or face mask can be defined as a fitting, disposable mask that is meant to be worn by health workers during healthcare procedures like attending to patients and also during surgical operations.

It is designed to prevent patients from contracting infections as well as protect health personnel from catching bacteria shed in liquid droplets and aerosols from the wearer’s mouth and nose.

It has elastic material that makes it easy to be hunged on both earlobes while covering the mouth and nose precisely.

A surgical mask is a loose-fitting, disposable mask that’s rectangular in shape. The mask has elastic bands or ties that can be looped behind your ears or tied behind your head to hold it in place. A metal strip may be present at the top of the mask and can be pinched to fit the mask around your nose.

A typical surgical face mask has a three-ply layer of wool. From inside-out, they are as follows:

  1. The inner layer: This Traps moisture, droplets, and sweat coming out from the moth.
  2. The middle layer: It filters and prevents some microorganisms from entering into the mouth or nose.
  3. The outer layer: This repels water, droplets of blood from the environment so that it doesn’t get access to the person’s mucosal surfaces of the mouth or nose.

Bearing in mind that the surgical face mask does not cover tightly at the edges,  it, therefore, means that it doesn’t filter all the air following sneezing or coughing.

 When Should You Wear A Face Mask?

Recommendations from the world health organization have it that one should wear a face mask in the following occasions

  1. When you have a fever or other respiratory symptoms such as cough, catarrh, sneezing.
  2. When you are caring for one with respiratory symptoms, which you are 6 feet or closer to the person

A face mask can also be worn when one is working in a dusty area or company.

Note that surgical face mask can reduce the risk of contracting the novel Coronavirus known as COVI-19, But Cannot prevent one from having the virus.  This is because the virus is smaller than the holes on the mask and therefor does not filter it. Secondly, the mask does not cover tightly the sides of the mouth so the virus in droplets can penetrate through there.

Currently, the Center for Disease Control(CDC) does not recommend that everybody must be wearing a surgical face mask or a special type of face mask known as N95 respirator. Those in front line healthcare needs them,  though they are limited.

Individuals can wear face masks made of clothes or cotton to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

How To Put On A Surgical Face Mask

The world Health organization has outlined guidelines on how to put on the surgical face mask.

The steps for putting on a surgical face mask  are as follows:

  1. Before touching the surgical face mask, first, wash your hands with soap under running water for at least 20 seconds.
  2. Check to know if there is any defect in the mask before using it.
  3. Position the green colored part outwards.
  4. Ensure that the metallic part of the mask is facing upwards, then press it against the shape of the nose bridge.
  5. If the mask has:
  • Earloops: Ensure that each loop is hung over each earlobe.
  • Ties Or ropes: Fasten the upper strings of the rope near the crown of your head, the, tie the lower rope down near your neck.
  • Dual elastic bands: Pull the upper band and place it over the crown of your head. Pull the lower band and place it on the nape of your neck.
  • Pull-on the bottom of the mask to cover the mouth and chin.
  • Be sure the mask fits very well.
  • Avoid touching the mask once it is on.
  • Once the mask is stained, gets contaminated, or becomes weak, change it immediately with a new one.

What Not To Do When Wearing A Surgical Mask

As soon as a surgical mask is positioned correctly,  there are things to avoid in order to prevent contamination and possible transmission of pathogens to the hands or face.

The following should be avoided:

  • Touching the mask.
  • Adjusting or Repositioning the mask.
  • Hanging the mask on the chin.
  • Tying the ropes in a crisscross pattern.
  • Washing the mask.
  • Reusing the mask.

If u must unavoidably touch the mast while putting it on,  then wash your hands before and after doing so or use alcohol based-hand sanitizer.

The Steps for Removing a Surgical Face Mask are as follows

In removing the face mask,  it is important to do so correctly to avoid transferring pathogens either to the hands,  face, or the environment.

Steps are as follows:

  • Wash your hands with soap under running water Or use hand sanitizer.
  • Hold the mask by the ropes or elastic.
  • Untie ropes or strings.
  • Carefully remove the mask from your face.
  • Having done that, wash your hands thoroughly with soap under running water.

What Is An N95 RespiratorN95 facemask

An N95 respirator is a special type of face mask which is designed to fit tightly the mouth, the nose as well as the sides of the mouth and nose,  such that droplets of organism do no escape or enter from the sides.

It has the ability to filter out small organisms and particles.

The aim of the N95 face mask is to ensure accurate fitting of the face. This mask is specially made for the front line healthcare workers.

As stated earlier,  this respirator filters organisms more effectively than a surgical face mask. A carefully tested,  trusted, and certified N95 can filter 95% of tiny organisms within the size of 0.3 microns; If properly worn can go a long way to prevent the spread of the virus,  However though not without limitations.

The US Food and Drug Administration does not recommend the general public to be using the N95 respirator to prevent COVID-19.

According to the Center For Disease Control(CDC) and World Health Organization(WHO), the best way to prevent the spread of this virus is:

  • To stay at home
  • Regular handwashing with soap under a running water
  • Maintaining Social & Physical Distancing
  • Observing good hygiene

In 2016, a systematic review Trusted Source and meta-analysis was carried out by health workers and found out that there is no significant difference between the N95 respirator and the surgical face mask in an attempt of preventing the transmission of acute respiratory infections in a clinical environment. This research was supported by a randomized clinical trial in the journal JAMA which was published in 2019.

What Works Best To Limit Infections.

If one manifests with respiratory symptoms or illness,  the most effective way of curbing the spread is by avoiding close contact with others and self-isolation. This also applies in trying to avoid contracting a virus., bcos most of the upper respiratory symptoms are of viral origin.

When one has the virus already or trying to avoid the risk of contracting it,  the following measures are recommended:

  • Regular and proper handwashing with soap under running water for at least 20 seconds
  • Maintaining Social and physical distancing of at least 6 feet.
  • Use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
  • Avoid touching your face, mouth, and nose.
  • Avoid crowds.
  • Stay at home.

The Bottom Line

Surgical face masks can protect against larger droplets or airborne microorganisms, while N95 respirators provide more effective filtration and barrier against microorganisms and tiny particles.

Putting on and taking off these face masks correctly may help protect you and the health of those around you from transmitting or contracting pathogens.

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