Facemasks are an easy, inexpensive, and potentially effective way to keep you on-guard during the COVID-19. These coverings have proved to be vital protective measures apart from social or physical distancing and proper hand hygiene.
Health agencies encourage all people to wear masks or use face coverings when out in public. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been a leading promoter of this action.
So, which type of facemask works best to avoid transmitting or inhaling the new coronavirus when you’re out in public? Have you given a thought to it?
Continue reading as WomenMinds will explore the different types of facemasks and their benefits upon wearing them.
The new coronavirus A.K.A SARS-CoV-2 spreads early in the disease course. Therefore, the virus may already be inhabiting your body asymptomatically.
Besides, up to 80 percent of transmission stems from the virus’s asymptomatic carriers, as per scientific models.
The current research has shown that widespread use of masks may limit the transmission of the virus by people who don’t realize they may have it already.
Other ways to catch COVID-19 are touching your mouth, nose, or eyes after touching a surface or object contaminated with the virus.
Best Facemask Types for COVID-19
Fit-and-seal-tested respirators are highly effective at filtering pathogens in the air. Such respirators must meet the rigorous filtration standards set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
The diameter of the coronavirus is 125 nanometers (est.). Hence, it’s helpful to know that:
- Certified N95 respirators can filter 95% of particles that are 100 to 300 nm in size.
- N99 respirators can filter 99% of these particles.
- N100 respirators can filter 99.7% of these particles.
The design of these masks helps keep droplets and viruses from traveling out or in and protects both the wearer and those who’re around. Experiments with these masks nearly kept the sheet together with not much scatter recorded.
Indeed, such masks aren’t perfect. However, they’ve served as the standard for this experiment with a relative droplet count of zero.
Some respirators also have valves that allow air to pass through exhalation, making it easier for them to breathe.
However, its downside is that other people are susceptible to the particles and pathogens exhaled through these valves.
Consequently, it’s hardly surprising that the best mask for this pandemic situation is the N95 mask. After all, this is what healthcare workers are supposed to wear, assuming that their healthcare facilities have provided enough protection in this pandemic.
Frontline healthcare and other workers must wear these masks as part of their job and need to look for proper respirator size and fitting to make the breathing more comfortable.
Additional measurement includes checking for air leakage using particular test particles. These routine tests have reassured that harmful particles and pathogens can’t leak through.
N95 Mask with Exhalation Valve
This mask registers a relative droplet count ranging from 0.1 to 0.2. When using an N95 mask, you need to check whether it has an exhalation valve that bypasses the filter.
An N95 mask with such a valve resembles a one-way passage. It ensures one-sided complete protection.
Even after wearing that mask, you can expose yourself to others still.
Let me rephrase that. You can still expose others to whatever you may discharge through your exhalation.
Air can pass through this valve from the wearer’s mouth and nose through the mask without going through the primary filter.
While this may make exhaling easier, it may permit viruses to get on through to the other side simultaneously.
This exhalation valve might be fine if the sole purpose of the mask was to protect you from any airborne particles. You will find this mask helpful while working with construction materials.
Therefore, if you want to take full advantage of this N95 mask during Corona’s situation, I suggest you check the exhalation valve before buying.
Surgical masks vary in types. These disposable and single-use masks are cut into a rectangle shape with pleats that expand to cover your nose, mouth, and jawline.
Breathable synthetic fabric is the central material of surgical masks.
Unlike respirators, surgical facemasks don’t have to meet NIOSH filtration standards. They don’t require forming an airtight seal against the covering area of your face.
It varies widely how well surgical masks filter pathogens. The reports suggest that the range is between 10 to 90 percent.
Despite the differences in fitting and filtration capacity, a randomized trial found that surgical facemasks and N95 respirators reduced the risk of various respiratory illnesses in similar ways.
Proper and consistent use of surgical facemasks has played a more pivotal role than the type of medical-grade masks or respirators did. Other studies have backed these results.
Do-It-Yourself (DIY) cloth masks have less effective protection capacity because of having gaps near the nose, cheeks, and jaw where droplets can get through. Also, the fabric is often porous, hence less effective in keeping out droplets.
Cloth masks may not be as sufficient in preventing the user from catching coronavirus as the medical-grade masks; it’s undoubtedly a makeshift in urgency.
Besides, several experimental results suggest they are far better than no mask at all, given you’ve constructed and worn it properly.
The third and fourth-ranking masks with polypropylene: the cotton, polypropylene-cotton, and the 2-layer polypropylene-apron masks.
Polypropylene masks have relative droplet counts around 0.1, a little bit higher than the surgical mask.
Cone-style facemasks fit over the mouth and nose properly. There’s a metal-strip on top so that the wearer can secure the mask at the nose-bridge.
According to Arizona State University researchers, cone-style facemasks are less effective at containing droplets and spray than cloth facemasks constructed of quilting cotton. But they’re more effective than a bandana.
NxTStop Travleisure Facemask
Thanks to their breathable, fitted design, these lightweight facemasks have already sold out several times on Amazon.
Its design consists of a sweat-wicking bamboo fabric that’s anti-wrinkle, odor-resistant, and extra soft. The mask’s sewing facilitates a face-hugging body and adjustable nose wire. It also consists of an under-chin gusset that creates a seal against the skin.
The ergonomic design makes these masks great for exercising or wearing outside the home. Besides, they even come in proper sizes for children.
Caraa Universal Masks
The Health’s Executive Editor Dara Kapoor says these masks stay in place better than any other she’s tried, and that’s no surprise when you look at the thoughtful design of this mask.
It links a lightweight and bendable nose wire with adjustable elastic earloops for a snug fit every time. These adaptable elements also make these masks great for kids’ little faces, according to Kapoor.
Plus, the facemasks are made with 100% cotton, so they’re breathable for a hot summer day.
Etsy Facemask with Nose Wire
This California-based company has already made its place into making one of the most helpful and popular facemasks to wear in a pandemic situation.
You’ll find over 100,000 listings for facemasks with nose wires on Etsy. The Etsy masks are washable cloth facemasks available in a handful of styles.
It’s a facemask with a nose wire and filter pocket, which makes it a popular pick. As the name suggests, the comfortable design consists of 4 layers of cotton protection and adjustable earloops.
Vida Protective Facemask
Vida Mask is an excellent option for protection due to its metal nose piece. This protective mask consists of 2 layers of 100% cotton and a pocket for removable filters.
Every mask comes with one free multi-layer filter, with additional filters available for purchase along with adjustable ear straps.
Sanctuary Summer Lightweight Masks
These masks got famous when celebs like Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas flocked to Los Angeles wearing them earlier this year.
Sanctuary has innovated seasonal designs like it’s lightweight masks for summer. The limited-edition style comprises 2 layers of a breathable cotton and Muslin blend, featuring a bendable nose wire for a secure fit.
Neck Gaiters and Balaclavas
Outdoors enthusiasts often have neck gaiters, which are essentially a tube of fabric that you can wear around the neck and can pull up or down if necessary. Balaclavas are tight-fitting garments that cover the head and neck.
Both these face coverings are usable for protecting the mouth and nose. They may provide some protection against the spread of the novel coronavirus.
However, many gaiters come in synthetic fabric, and the synthetic fabric is less effective in preventing the spread of small particles as natural fibers, unlike cotton.
Masks for Frontline Service Holders
N95 respirator masks fit correctly on your face. They exude 95% or more of the smallest particles in the air.
However, they have to fit just right to work. Still, the frontline service providers should wear N95 respirators to maintain their safety while ensuring an equal amount of safety to others.
On the other hand, surgical masks are mostly blue with white sidelines. These masks don’t snug across your nose and mouth.
Surgical masks protect from the large droplets when a sick person coughs or sneezes, but they’re too loose to protect against all germs. And they also can’t block the tiniest particles, possibly, carrying coronavirus.
Hence, it would be advisable that doctors and nurses should avoid wearing these while treating the patients. But they can try surgical masks while staying at home or going to public places.
Masks for Non-healthcare Workers
Cloth masks are best for non-healthcare people. Follow the tips below to when making your facemasks:
- You can sew the fabric and tie it around your face. You can also fold it around some hair ties for earloops.
- The material should be two-phased or two-layered.
- Consider adding a pocket for a filter. Make sure you remove it before washing the mask.
- Adding a copper or wire ribbon on the nose of the mask will make it a better fitting.
To buy other kinds of masks, make sure of the following things:
- Check hardware stores for dust masks. They resemble N95 respirators but are less effective in filtering out particles.
- Neoprene masks can shield from the droplets.
- Using a neck gaiter – a piece of material tied in a loop – stretchy and synthetic fabric making.
People Who shouldn’t Wear Facemasks
CDC guidelines say that certain people shouldn’t wear masks.
For instance, children under 2 years old, people with breathing difficulty, someone who’s unconscious, and someone who can’t move or take off a mask without help should avoid wearing a mask.
Facemask Facts and Myths
- Facemask is useful only if you wear it correctly when outside the house.
- An unfitting facemask isn’t useless as long as it consists of a high-quality filter.
- Fitting cloth masks can’t prevent all airborne particles.
- You should wear a mask when people around are sick, or you’re nursing an affected person.
- You can do a workout outside your house, given that there’s at least 6 feet distance between you and other people.
- You should wear a mask round the clock only if you’re a frontline healthcare worker.
- CDC suggests that anyone above 2 must wear a mask in public places if it’s hard to maintain the minimum distance.
- You should only wear a facemask at the hospitals and clinics.
- Wearing a mask alone would save you from the coronavirus.
- A mask made of any material is useful as long as it covers your face.
- You don’t need to wear a mask if you’re not affected by the coronavirus.
- Medical masks are bad for health; it induces more carbon dioxide.
- Cloth masks are ineffective in protecting from airborne particles.
- Wearing a mask may affect your immune system.
Developing a resolute in fighting COVID-19 may start by wearing a mask first, especially when your occupation engages public places.
If you need medical assistance in checkups or testing, put on a mask before the medical help arrives.
Remember, a mask is an additional gear alongside other COVID-19 safety measures. So, don’t think for once that a mask alone would protect you.
Limiting public contact is still imperative. A 20 seconds soap hand-washing and sanitizing the surfaces of your living facility daily are also highly recommended.