Posted at 1:30 pm • 17 Sept 2020 • Chelsea from Kraywoods
The air around us is crucial for our existence. We breathe this air; the oxygen that we inhale from the atmosphere is what keeps us alive. On the contrary, this air could be an invisible, silent killer for our health. But don't worry! A simple mask can quickly stop this threat. Generally, a mask is a covering for your face, mostly for your nose and mouth to protect against the killer micro-organisms in the surrounding air.
Let's see together what types of face masks are available and how to choose the best face mask for you!
While you have a plethora of options on the market, cotton masks are usually the best resort. Best cotton masks are readily available and easy to make. In the recent pandemic hit by the novel COVID-19 virus, it is advised to wear a mask whenever you are in public. Wearing a mask may not always save you from viruses, but it can certainly stop your contribution to the already existing sea of germs. It is also a good practice to wear a mask to keep your lungs clean from the over-polluted air around in regular times. A mask may not be a fashion accessory, but it is indeed the height of your health protection. As stated before, there is a variety to choose from, but each type of mask comes with its own set of merits. Hopefully, this writing will shed some light on the crucial factors that you need to keep in mind before choosing the best face mask for yourself.
Different types of face masks are:
● Surgical face mask
● N95 respirator
● KN95 respirator
● Basic cloth face mask
● Full-length face shield
● Filtering face piece respirator
Surgical Face Mask
Let's talk about the most publicized product of the year surgical face masks. Before this pandemic, surgical face masks were worn mostly by medical professionals during surgeries or other medical inspections. These are disposable, loose-fitting face masks made from a minimum of three layers of synthetic non-woven materials helping you to cover your nose, mouth, and chin. They vary in designs like they can be rectangular or flat. Most of these masks have a metal strip on the top to adjust the mask to the nose and block the gaps. These masks protect the sizeable respiratory particle droplets but can't prevent the small particles like the COVID-19 virus. They are most effective in preventing the transmission of infectious respiratory secretions from the wearer to other non-infected personals. It means it will cease the viruses discharged from you. These masks are most suitable for one-time use; they also present a few challenges like they cannot be washed or reused. So, to conclude, these give satisfactory performance for medical personals.
The use of these types of masks is strictly restricted for healthcare workers only. These masks ensure a seal between the air and the face. These masks are not free sized that fit everyone like the surgical masks. The users of this mask undergo a professional fit-test that helps them determine which mask is best suited for their faces so that there is a tight and proper seal. This mask can protect you from 95% of the small particles like bacteria and viruses, and larger particles, splashes, and sprays. These masks are carefully sized as circular or oval for providing a tight seal. There is sometimes an attachment called the exhalation valve. As this mask creates a confined place, it can rapidly build up moisture and heat. So, the exhalation valve ensures easy breathing and the way out for heat and humidity. These masks are most useful both for COVID-19 and other viruses, bacteria. The supply of these masks is scarce, so the general use of these masks is prohibited. Only the healthcare workers having direct contact with COVID patients should and can use this type of mask. If you are one of the mass people, you should not buy one. Also, there are many online, offline retailers selling ineffective counterfeit products because of high demand. So, be smart and be humane to spare these masks for those who need them the most.
Along with the name, the specifications of KN95 masks are very much similar to that of N95. One of the differences is, N95 can capture the larger particles. The manufacturers of KN95 masks are China-based. It is also most suitable for health care workers. As the N95 sham, there are also fake KN95 masks available in the market. Along with surgical masks, this product is getting a lot of attention because of the low price. The price is very much less than the N95 masks, whereas they both have the same specifications. So, this raises questions about authenticity and quality. There are many cases where the supply has forged quality assurance documents, and the products are phony. So be careful before buying KN95 from spurious sources.
Reusable Cloth Face Mask
Cloth face masks are an environmentally-friendly, sustainable and stylish alternative to disposable face masks. So far, masks made from cloths are considered the best face mask for men and women. They are the most competent and accessible face masks for mass people meeting their daily necessities of masks. It is also known as cotton masks, Home-made masks, or DIY masks. It can act as a worthy barrier to the transmission of the virus from the wearer to others. If you are not in regular touch with a patient, just a general person worrying about keeping yourself safe, these cotton masks are the standard, quotidian face masks. It is highly recommended and ordered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) that everybody must wear a cloth face mask (considerably made from cotton) whenever they step a foot outside or visit a public place crowded by people. There are two types of COVID patients, symptomatic and asymptomatic. The wearer may not even know him/herself if he is infected or not.
When the majority of mass people use masks, community transmission can be stopped at a large scale. Cotton masks are commercially available and also can be home-made. You don't even need a sewing machine or high-quality cloths to make a feasible cotton mask. What you will need for a DIY mask is any old unused dress, scissors and rubber bands or hair ties.
Cotton is the preferable choice of fabric because it is tightly woven. This type of mask is made from common materials, so there is an unlimited supply. Minimum two layers of cotton are required to form a sound barrier. Then again, the more the layers, the more secure is the mask. Multiple layers act as filters for macro and micro-organisms. The mask should essentially cover your nose, your mouth, and chin, leaving no gaps on the sides. To get the best protection, you can insert a little bendable piece of metal (only if available) to cancel out the gap around your nose. In a warm country like ours, cotton masks are the best choice for masks because of the heat. Other masks may cause breathing problems, but rest assured the cotton mask allows smooth breathing without restriction while protecting you.
We recommend The Kraywoods Reusable Cotton Face Mask which is made from high-quality, breathable and soft 100% cotton fabric (dual-layer) and even features a washable inner polypropylene filter for extra protection! Now, the most significant benefit of this mask is that you can wash it as many times as you want and reuse it. Not all fabric masks are washable, as washing causes the layers to wear off. You can make the mask without cost and also use it many times!
If the mask gets dirty or wet, put in hot water (minimum 60 degrees) with soap and detergent, dry it out, and you are good to go! WHO recommends multiple layered cotton masks to be used extensively by all non-medical professionals whenever they encounter other people in public places. But you have to maintain some precautions like washing hands before putting it on or not touching the mask with bare hands and immediately wash your hands after you remove your mask after coming back home from outside.
If you're a glasses wearer, you can read our blog How To Stop Your Glasses From Fogging While Wearing a Face Mask to learn more about how to wear your mask!
Full-Length Face Shield
You must have seen welders wearing a glass shield to protect their eyes from sparks. A face shield is just another diaphanous version of that made from plastic. These shields are made commercially a part of personal protective equipment for frontline warriors providing necessary service to people. A face shield is a thin plastic sheet attached to a headband. It covers from the forehead to below the chin. It is known to provide an extra layer of protection used along with a face mask. Before the pandemic, like the surgical mask, it was also used by doctors performing surgery, which involve splattering of body fluid. If you are a member of the general public wearing a face mask and keeping a distance from others, you do not need a face shield. It is tough to breathe while wearing a face shield. A face shield is not an ideal choice of protection because it doesn't create a barrier for respiratory droplets. The small particles float in the air and can quickly come up under the shields.
Filtering Face Piece Respirator
This kind of respirator cannot be used for protection against any airborne disease. This type of respirator is comparable to surgical masks. These are disposable. These can only protect you from inhaling wood dust, pollens, animal dander. If you are suffering from allergy, this respirator can save you the triggers of your allergy. This kind of respirator uses a filter as an integral part of the entire facepiece acts like a filter. This respirator can be used in non-hazardous environments, but it is not recommended to use against airborne viruses or bacteria.
We are often driven by the popular trends overlooking the better options available, and that is precisely what is happening with using face masks. According to WHO, you should use medical-grade masks like N95 only if you are handling patients or you are in direct contact with them. N95 masks are costly, and many cannot afford to buy one daily. The surgical masks are cheapest, but they cannot provide you with proper protection. There are gaps on both sides of the surgical masks, exposing your nose and mouth to threatening air particles. These gaps may allow trouble-free breathing but cause air leakage. Then there are face shields that do not provide safeguarding if used alone without a face mask. Face shields are costly, and the majority of our population may face trouble purchasing them.
On the other hand, there are cotton face masks which provided protection alongside conveniences such as:
-They are free of cost and can be made easily at home.
-They provide adequate protection.
-They can be washed and used as many times as you want. You do not need to have any chemical reagents to wash them. Just regular soap and detergent will do just fine.
-You are making it by yourself, and the material of the mask is well-known to you, so you are less prone to buying a counterfeit product.
-Using cotton masks will lessen the pressure from medical-grade masks and guarantee enough supply to our frontline warriors.
The present time is a challenging and anxious time for all of us. Face masks are an easy and effective way to stop the spread of the virus. Amidst all the face mask alternatives available, cotton masks are the best face mask for working men and women. The most productive way to control the spreading is social distancing and washing your hands regularly. The next best way is to wear a mask. There are official guidelines for making a cost-free DIY cotton mask. To secure yourself and your loved ones, make a cotton mask from available common materials today, disinfect it and use it while you are out. With the cautionary measures, common hygiene manners, a social distancing of at least six feet, and a cotton mask, we can acquire safety from the deadly virus.