Let’s Talk About Face Masks
We all know what a face mask is, and chances are that we’ve all seen people wearing them (especially in today’s current climate).
Their popularity during a pandemic is due to the believed protection that they offer, as studies show they decrease the amount of virus exposure.
The main purpose of a face mask is to prevent liquid from a sneeze or cough entering another person’s mouth or nose. This would decrease the degree of which an infected person can spread bacteria.
Face Mask Benefits
Wearing a face mask can help protect you from catching a viral infection when around an ill person, or prevent you from spreading your own illness. That’s why it’s common practice for doctors and nurses, who are around sick patients all day, or dentists, who risk close contact with the mouth and nose.
Another benefit of this protective gear is that it can minimise hand-to-mouth viral transmissions by stopping people from directly touch their mouths while wearing one.
Simply “distancing” may not always be an effective solution. For one, healthcare professionals can’t always be at a distance from patients. What’s more, the “two metres apart” guidance is based on data from the 1940s, and more recent studies suggest that large droplets could potentially travel up to six metres. Face masks offer an alternative solution where distancing is ineffective.
In other studies, masks resulted in more than a threefold reduction in the amount of virus people sprayed into the air and have also been shown to reduce the likelihood of developing seasonal influenza.
The Difference Between Surgical Face Masks & N95 Respirators
Now you know about face masks, but are they the same as N95 respirators? The short answer is no, they’re not the same – let’s look into why…
Respirators are similar to face masks, being protective devices worn around the face to block viruses. However, they are more tightly fitted and designed to stop smaller airborne particles from entering the body. The N95 is named because of this effectiveness, as it blocks at least 95% of tiny particles.
These respirator masks can be more difficult to put on properly, especially for those who aren’t medical professionals. When fitted correctly, they can get hot and stuffy, resulting in people removing them before they do any good.
Which Mask is the Best Choice?
Respirators are mainly recommended for professionals working with potential exposure to airborne diseases and must be worn properly to serve any benefits.
Theoretically, these N95s can offer greater protection against airborne viruses than surgical masks – this is because face masks are designed to block larger particles rather than aerosols. However, studies have found benefits to both types of masks.
The bottom line is, in most cases, a surgical face mask will usually suffice (and can be easier to source) as long as other preventative measures are properly followed. The emphasis here is on basic hygiene – clean hands and clean surfaces.
One more thing – if you’re looking into purchasing a respirator, make sure you know what you’re buying. If a product is titled “respirator” with no mention of N95, then it’s unlikely that you’ll be getting the full level of protection.
Wear Your Face Mask Properly, or it Won’t Work
Face masks can only help to prevent the spread of viruses when worn correctly and frequently.
Be aware of the guidelines for proper mask-wearing so that your efforts don’t go to waste:
- Use your mask when coming within 6 feet of an infected person
- Keep the mask firmly in place over the nose, mouth and chin by positioning the strings correctly
- Once applied, avoid touching the mask again until you remove it
- Use your face mask before going near other people if you are infected (e.g. if you need to see a doctor, wear the mask to protect others in the waiting area)
- Consider wearing a mask in crowded areas if a virus is widespread in the community
- Consider wearing a mask if you’re at high risk for virus complications
- When you’re done wearing the mask, throw it away and wash your hands
- Never reuse a mask
Do You Really Need a Face Mask?
There’s a lot of different advice out there, but ultimately a face mask can’t hurt. As long as people still adhere to proper sanitation, there are no known risks to wearing a face mask.
They can be particularly tempting for public transport and crowded areas to help protect from the high risk of various peoples’ coughs and sneezes.
That being said, it’s not necessary for everyone to wear a face mask. They should really only be worn if:
- You have symptoms (a mask should be worn to protect others)
- You’re a healthcare provider caring for sick patients (a mask should be worn to protect you)
- You’re likely to be around people with symptoms
- You’ve been advised to wear a mask by a medical professional
Get Your Face Mask from a Trustworthy Supplier
Remember, surgical masks and their filtration material are not regulated in the UK. That means anyone can sell something labelled as a surgical mask, even if it’s totally ineffective.
Buying from a reliable source is crucial, and so is checking a products credentials. Always look for the CE certification mark. If a mask is CE certified, then it conforms with EU health, safety and environmental protection standards.
The Bottom Line
As effective as they are, wearing a face mask does not guarantee safety from infection; basic hygiene measures are still necessary.
Washing hands and cleaning surfaces regularly and effectively is crucial to prevent the spread of bacteria.
To get the right supplies, trust in Direct365 – all kinds of businesses across the UK trust in our reliable and cost-friendly products.