Surgical & medical mask - Protect against bacteria
In this context of a global pandemic, you may have noticed the frequent use of a blue or white cloth mask. These are known as a surgical or medical mask. Before everyday life took a 180 ° turn, it was used mainly by health personnel but after the arrival of COVID-19 it became a mandatory accessory in our daily basis.
Did you know that in a sneeze there are around 40,000 drops of saliva containing viruses and bacteria that travel at a speed of 320km and stay in the air for hours?
Therefore, it is so important the usage of a mask as they reduce the chances of contagion. And surgical and medical masks guarantee 95% of the filtration of germs by air.
We invite you to continue reading this article and learn much more.
What is a surgical & medical mask?
It is a type of mask made with a polypropylene filter to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses that are expelled in the fluids of the nose and mouth. It also serves to protect those who use it from external infectious agents contemplated in the air.
What are the differences between the masks?
Generally speaking, surgical and medical masks are known as the same.
Is a loose-fitting face masks that cover your nose, mouth, and chin. Surgical masks are made of three layers: a middle layer of extra fine glass fibres or synthetic microfibres covered on both sides by acrylic bonded parallel-laid or wet laid nonwoven.
Those masks dedicated for medical purposes are regulated differently and treated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Union (EU) as a medical device, therefore they undergo through a more extensive quality test.
How you put on a surgical mask
• Carefully place the mask on your face
• Check that your nose and mouth are covered
• Avoid touching the mask while wearing it
How you remove a surgical mask
• Remove the mask by the tapes, try not to touch the fabric
• Discard the mask after use.
• Wash your hands with a hydroalcoholic solution or soap and water.
Can you reuse a mask?
No, masks show a decrease in efficacy after a 4-hour wearing time. Surgical masks are recommended to be used for 4 – 6 hours maximum. You can use your mask different times as long as it doesn’t exceed the 4 - 6 hours limit.
Who should wear a mask?
It is intended to be used by everyone, and its usage is a measure against COVID-19.
When should one wear a mask?
As the pandemic continues, multiple countries are ordering the usage of a face mask in public. In the USA most of the states have mandated the use of masks and face coverings while in public. In Europe, these regulations vary across countries. Those countries which resulted in being severely affected by the pandemic, such as Spain, Italy, France, etc., the citizens and tourists must wear a mask in public areas.
These regulations were loosen-up during the summer 2020 and now they're taken back into force as the autumn and winter comes, this example can be found in countries like Poland.
Many regulations may apply in different countries; however, it is recommended to be used in closed places or when the distance of 1.5 meters cannot be ensured. At this moment, masks made mandatory outdoors across.
When you are in public
It is recommended in the case you are surrounded by people, making hard to respect the 1.5 meters distance.
It is important that you maintain its use at all times because, in any means of transport, agglomeration is generated. Unless you travel in your private car and the companions are your family.
In the workplace
Depending on the sector in which you work, it will be mandatory or not. Right now, people doing remote work don’t have the need to use it while working from home. Only, it is recommended its usage when exposed to people.
It is not necessary unless you are surrounded by someone that does not belong to your family circle.
Can the mask protect other people from your germs?
Yes, thanks to the built-in filter. That is, your bacteria and germs will remain in the mask and it will prevent you from infecting others.
Travel with surgical & medical mask
Maybe when you need to move from one place to another, near or far, you ask yourself "should I use the mask?" In the next section we answer this question:
Travel by plane
In all airports worldwide its use is mandatory the usage of a mask.
Traveling on the bus
Being a public transport, it is advisable to use the mask. Note that people may be more likely to be in enclosed spaces for longer periods of time where we know there is a greater risk of the spread of the virus and social distancing is likely to be difficult to follow consistently.
Commuting by metro
Yes, you should use the mask because it is a closed place and it crowds many people. Even for greater protection you should use a face shield. Masks may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others, and they are most likely to reduce the spread of a virus when they are widely used by people in public settings.
What is the best surgical mask?
All surgical or medical masks have the same characteristics: they are made with a polypropylene fabric, they have straps to be tied around the back of the head and they filter approximately 95% of the infectious agents.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will a surgical mask stop me from getting coronavirus?
Although the chances decrease, there is still the risk of contracting the virus through the eyes. For example, if you touch something that is infected and put your hands to your eyes, you can catch it. Surgical masks main protect the others from any potential infection you might have. However, a FFP2 or N95 respirator will protect you from getting infected.
Are there special masks for kids?
No, it is a single and standard presentation for surgical masks. However, some cloth masks for kids can be found in which a special filter can be inserted in the mask. Nonetheless, children younger than 2 years old should not wear masks according the last recommendations from pediatricians and scientists.
Is a medical mask reusable?
No. Surgical masks should be discarded every time they get wet or every four hours. However, Stanford University proposes two effective methods to sanitize N95 and FFP2. According to Stanford University there are two home methods to disinfect N95 or FFP2 masks (in addition to others that can only be carried out in laboratories). On the one hand, you can put the mask in the oven at 70 degrees for 30 minutes (since from 56 degrees the virus is inactivated). Or steam it over boiling water for 10 minutes. Although experts warn that after this process the mask may not fit as before. The Spanish Ministry of Health recommends washing and disinfecting reusable masks with normal detergent and water between 60 and 90º (normal washing machine cycle). On the other hand, immerse the masks in a 1:50 solution of bleach (20 ml of bleach, 980 ml of water) with warm water for 30 minutes and then wash with soap and water.
Can I wear an ordinary surgical mask instead of a N95 mask?
It depends. While a surgical mask may be effective in blocking splashes and large-particle droplets, a face mask, by design, does not filter or block very small particles in the air that may be transmitted by coughs, sneezes, or certain medical procedures. Surgical masks also do not provide complete protection from germs and other contaminants because of the loose fit between the surface of the mask and your face.
The aim of a surgical mask is to stop those who are infected to spread the virus around, therefore its mandatory usage in many countries as prevention is considered the best cure. If you visit a hospital or a place in which is likely to encounter with infected people, then it’s advised to wear a N95 respirator or a FFP2 mask. If the nature of your job is customer-oriented with a high possibility to interact with people, then it is advised to wear a surgical mask and a face shield.
Whereas, if your job doesn’t imply the need for a huge contact with people, then it is advised to wear only a surgical mask. Apart of the correct usage of a mask, it is highly advised to maintain the correct hygiene of hands and keep the corresponding distance of 1.5 meters.