A novel coronavirus popped up in China in late 2019. It has since spread exponentially all over the world. This novel coronavirus is called SARS-CoV-2, and is nicknamed COVID-19, the disease it causes.
While those with COVID-19 have a mild disease, some may experience breathing difficulties, pneumonia and even respiratory failure.
Older adults and individuals with existing health problems are at greater risk for severe disease.
You may have learned a lot lately about using face masks to avoid infection. In fact, one recent study found that Google searches related to face masks spiked in Taiwan following the country’s first imported event.
So, face masks are successful and if so when are you supposed to wear them? Read on to learn the answers, and more.
CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE: HEALTHLINE
Keep updated about the latest COVID-19 outbreak via our live updates.
For more information about how to plan, prevention and treatment tips, and expert
recommendations visit our coronavirus center.
What are the three primary types of face masks?
When you hear about face masks for COVID-19 protection, it’s usually three types:
- 1) homemade cotton face mask
- 2) surgical mask
- 3) N95 respirator
Let’s discuss each in a little more detail below.
Homemade cloth face masks
To avoid transmission of the virus from people without symptoms, Trusted Source is now recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC) that everyone wear cloth face masks, such as homemade face masksTrusted Source.
The advice is for when you’re in public areas where it’s hard to keep a distance of 6 feet from others. Aside from continuous physical distancing and good hygiene procedures, this advice is.
- In public settings, wear cloth face masks particularly in areas of substantial community-based transmission, such as grocery stores and pharmacies.
- Don’t put fabric face masks on children under 2 years of age, people with respiratory issues, people who are unconscious or people who can not remove the mask on their own.
- Using face masks of fabric rather than surgical masks or respirators of N95, since these vital items must be reserved for healthcare staff and other first responders.
- Extreme caution should be practiced by health care workers when using facial masks made by themselves. Preferably these masks can be used in conjunction with a face shield that protects the whole front and side of the face and stretches to the chin or underneath.
NOTE: Wash masks with homemade cloth after each use. Beware of not touching your eyes, nose, and mouth while removing. Clean hands immediately after removal.
Benefits of homemade face masks
Cloth face masks can be made from common materials at home, so there is an infinite supply.
They can lower people’s risk of transmitting the virus by voice, coughing, or sneezing without symptoms.
They are better than not using any mask and provide some protection, particularly where it is hard to maintain physical distancing.
Risks of homemade face masks
They might give a false sense of security. Although homemade face masks provide some degree of security, they provide far less security than do surgical masks or respirators. One research carried out in 2008 revealed that homemade face masks could be half as effective as surgical masks and up to 50 times less effective than respirators with N95.
They don’t eliminate or minimize the need for other protections. Proper hygiene and physical distancing techniques are also the best ways of keeping yourself healthy.
Surgical masks are loose-fitting, disposable face masks that cover the nose , mouth, and chin. Usually they are used to this:
- 1) Shield the wearer from sprays, splashes and droplets of large particles
- 2) Avoid transfer of the wearer’s highly contagious respiratory secretions to others
Surgical masks that differ in design but with pleats or folds, the mask itself is mostly flat and rectangular in shape. The top of the mask includes a strip of metal that can attach around your nose.
Elastic bands or tight, straight ties help to keep a mask in place as you wear it. This can be either looped behind the ears, or tied behind the back.
A N95 respirator is a face mask which is more closely fitted. This respirator can also filter out 95 percent Trusted Source of very small particles, in addition to splashes, sprays and large droplets. Like bacteria and viruses.
Generally the respirator itself is circular or oval in shape and is built to create a close seal to your nose. Support elastic bands hold it tightly onto your forehead. Other forms may have an attachment called an exhalation valve which may help with breathing and heat and moisture accumulation.
The N95 respirators aren’t just one-size suits. They actually have to be fit-tested before they are used to ensure a proper seal is formed. If the mask doesn’t stick to your face well, you won’t get the protection you need.
Users of N95 respirators must continue to conduct a seal check every time they put one on, after being fit-tested.
Even it is important to remember that in certain classes a tight seal can not be achieved. This involve people with facial hair and babies.
Can wearing a face mask protect against the 2020 coronavirus?
SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted by tiny respiratory droplets, from person to person.
These are produced when someone exhales, speaks, coughs, or sneezes with the virus. If you breathe in those droplets, you will contract the virus.
In addition, the virus-containing respiratory droplets may land on different objects or surfaces.
You may be able to acquire SARS-CoV-2 after touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, if you touch your mouth , nose or eyes. But this is not known to be the only way the virus spreads.
Homemade face masks
Homemade face masks provide only a limited degree of protection but they can help prevent asymptomatic people from transmitting SARS-CoV-2.
The CDC advises their use in public environments, as well as physical distancing and sound hygiene procedures.
The surgical masks can not guard against SARS-CoV-2 infection. Not only does the mask not filter out tiny particles of aerosol but air leakage also happens through the mask sides when you inhale.
N95 respirators, such as those containing SARS-CoV-2, can protect against smaller respiratory droplets.
Currently, however, the CDC does not recommend Reliable Source its use outside of healthcare settings. The explanations for this are numerous, including:
- 1) To be used properly N95 respirators should be fit-tested. A weak seal can lead to leakage which reduces the efficacy of the respirator.
- 2) Because of their tight fit, the N95 respirators can become hot and stuffy, making them hard to wear for long periods of time.
- 3) Our supply of N95 respirators worldwide is limited , making it critical that healthcare workers and first responders have ready access.
If you already own an N-95 mask and want to wear it, then that is Cool as it is not possible to recycle used masks. They are more painful and more difficult to breathe through though.
Other effective ways to prevent COVID-19
Mind that there are other important ways to keep COVID-19 from becoming infected, including using face masks. Including:
- 1) Lots of washing your face. Using soap and water, or a hand sanitizer based on alcohol.
- 2) Exercising physical space. If there are several cases of COVID-19 in your culture, avoid contact with people who are sick, and remain at home.
- 3) Being face-conscious. With clean hands just touch your face or mouth.
How to use a surgical mask if you have the 2020 coronavirus
If you have COVID-19 symptoms, stay at home except to get medical attention. If you stay with someone, or if you visit a health care provider, wear a surgical mask if there is one.
Bear in mind that while surgical masks do not protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection, they can help trap infectious respiratory secretions.
This can be a critical tool in helping prevent the virus from spreading to those around you.
And how can you use an operating mask properly? Take the following steps to:
1. Clean your hands by either washing with soap and water, or using a hand sanitizer based on alcohol.
2. Inspect it for any tears or defects, before putting on the mask.
3. Locate the strip of metal inside the mask. This is the mask at the end.
4. Place the mask in such a way that the colored side faces out, or away from you.
5. Place the top part of the mask on your nose bridge and mold the metal strip to the nose shape.
6. Carefully loop the elastic bands behind your ears or tie the tight, straight ties behind your back.
7. Pull the mask ‘s bottom down , making sure it protects the nose , mouth and chin.
8. Seek not to touch the mask when putting it on. If your mask must be removed or changed, make sure to clean your hands immediately afterwards.
9. Unloop the bands from behind your ears, or undo the links from behind your eyes, to take off the mask. Stop scratching the mask front which may be dirty.
10. Immediately dispose of the mask in a closed garbage bin and clean your hands thoroughly afterwards.
You can find surgical masks at different drugstores or grocery stores. Maybe you can order them online too.
Using surgical masks in the time of COVID-1
Here are some best practices for face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic to bear in mind:
1. Healthcare staff and first responders reserve N95 respirators for usage.
2. Wear a surgical mask only if you are actually suffering from COVID-19, or caring for someone at home who can not wear a mask.
3. Chirurgical masks are reusable. Don’t use these again.
4. Remove your surgical mask in case it gets dirty or humid.
5. Always discard the surgical mask immediately upon removal in a lined garbage bin.
6. Clean your hands before putting on and after taking off your surgical mask. Additionally, if you touch the mask front when you are wearing it, clean your face.
Should I wear a mask if I’m taking care of someone who may have COVID-19?
If you’re caring for someone who has COVID-19 at home, you should take precautions about surgical masks , gloves, and washing. Have the following aims:
1. Isolate them apart from other people in a different section of the house, preferably providing them with a separate bathroom too.
2. Have a supply of surgical masks which they can wear, particularly if they will be around others.
3. Some people with COVID-19 do not wear a surgical mask, because it may make breathing more difficult. If that is the case, prepare to wear one Trusted Source while you are in the same room helping to take care of them.
4. Using protective gloves while handling soiled SourceTrusted Washing. Throw the gloves away after use in a closed garbage bin, and wash your hands promptly.
5. Clean your hands regularly with soap and water, or a hand sanitizer based on alcohol. If your hands aren’t clean, try not to touch your eyes , nose or mouth.
6.Recall washing high-touch surfaces regularly. This includes countertops, pushbuttons and keyboards.
The CDC suggests wearing fabric face coverings, such as diy face masks, in public settings where a 6-foot distance from others is hard to hold.
Cloth face masks should be worn while still maintaining good grooming and physical distancing. For hospitals and health care staff, reserve surgical masks and N95 respirators.
When used properly, N95 respirators will defend themselves against contracting SARS-CoV-2. People who use N95 respirators need to be checked properly to ensure that the respirator seals are efficient.
An operating mask won’t defend you from SARS-CoV-2 contracting. It may also help prevent the virus from being spread to others.
Just wear a surgical mask if you have COVID-19 and need to be around others or if you ‘re caring for someone at home who can’t wear one. It’s very necessary that you do wear a surgical mask in the above cases.
There is currently a shortage of surgical masks and respirators and they are desperately needed by health-care staff and first responders.
You can donate them if you have unused surgical face masks by contacting your local hospital or fire department or by consulting with the state health department.