Face masks went from being a novelty to a necessity around the world in a matter of weeks. Therefore, many people still remain unsure about the importance of face masks, their uses, varieties, and proper care and maintenance.
While most medical professionals agree that the use of cloth masks can limit the spread of COVID-19 to some degree, people still have trouble deciding what types of masks they should be using and when.
Moreover, with so many options available in the market – now that everyone from fashion retailers to medical stores is selling disposable and washable masks – it can be easy to feel lost and confused about what purpose, exactly, a face mask is supposed to serve and what qualities to look for when buying one.
As face masks become ubiquitous around the world, many pertinent questions are being asked by consumers everywhere. Are hand-stitched masks as effective as mass-produced ones? Are disposable surgical masks more or less effective than the reusable ones? How many layers of fabric should a mask ideally have for maximum efficacy and comfort? Are there different types of masks that should be worn indoors and out?
The Importance of Wearing a Mask
Unless you have a medical condition that prevents you from being able to wear a face mask – or are able to maintain a distance of six feet from other people at all times – you should definitely be wearing a mask to prevent infection. Ideally, you should wear a mask whenever you leave the house or when an outsider enters your home.
Global health organizations such as CDC and WHO agree unanimously about the efficacy of face masks in preventing the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Medical experts and researchers around the world are also of the same opinion.
Face masks prevent you from absorbing the respiratory droplets expelled when the people around you sneeze, cough, laugh, or talk. These droplets, comprising tiny bits of spit and saliva, can carry the novel coronavirus from an infected person to a healthy individual.
This is an incredible source of risk because many infected individuals – known as asymptomatic carriers of the disease – show no signs of illness but are capable of infecting others around them.
Wearing a face mask ensures that you will not catch the disease just by talking to or standing near an asymptomatic carrier of the novel coronavirus. The mask will prevent any respiratory droplets expelled by the other person from entering your nose or mouth. If you are infected, on the other hand, a face mask will ensure that you do not unknowingly spread the virus to those in your vicinity.
Buying the Perfect Mask for Your Needs
When buying a face mask, some of the important things to keep in mind are the materials from which the mask has been made, and the amount of time for which you will be able to safely use the mask. First, you must consider whether you want to buy a disposable mask or a reusable one.
Disposable surgical masks have the advantage of being both highly breathable and efficient at blocking virus transmission. They are also relatively inexpensive. However, the problem with disposable surgical masks is that they’re designed specifically to be worn once and then thrown away. Their quality can, hence, deteriorate significantly with subsequent usage.
This means that disposable masks are not just bad for the environment, they can make a significant dent in your wallet too, if you need to use masks frequently to step out of the house. Already, since the beginning of the pandemic, piles of single-use personal protective items have been washing up against shorelines around the world.
Therefore, researchers are now recommending the use of reusable, washable masks manufactured by trusted companies or brands. After one use, these masks can be washed, sanitized, and stored safely for future usage. They do not clutter up the environment and do not need to be replaced every few days, which also makes them more cost-effective in the long term.
When it comes to the material of the washable masks, most scientists recommend common, comfortable fabrics like cotton and linen. These are breathable and effective at blocking respiratory droplets from seeping through.
However, medical professionals everywhere agree that regardless of the type of material, the masks should be made from fabric that has a tight weave and a high thread count. Such masks can more effectively prevent the passage of virus-carrying droplets of spit and saliva.
Experts agree that high-quality face masks, made from tight-knit fabric, are a must to protect yourself from the risk of coronavirus infection. Purchasing a reusable and washable mask manufactured by a brand you trust is perhaps the best decision you can make, to prevent getting infected or spreading the infection on to your loved ones.
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