We know that these current times have been far from easy for many people, with the advent of the pandemic and the shelter of quarantine, life as we knew it has taken an unexpected turn, but one that has also taught us great lessons that we can’t afford to miss.
One of those lessons is to take greater care of our health, both by keeping our immune system strong and by paying more attention to the dangers of external agents that can harm it.
The best advice to achieve it is to have a healthy lifestyle but it is also necessary to acquire hygiene habits so that bacteria and viruses do not sneak through any weakness we may have in our body. Washing hands regularly, carrying antibacterial products and the use of masks has become an essential routine for everyone in the world, but… why is it important? Why is it so important to use face masks to protect ourselves from viruses?
- You may be interested in: “The 10 differences between the flu and colds”.
Well, in this article we will explain everything you need to know about face masks and their functionalities, as well as their correct use.We will explain to you in this article everything you need to know about face masks and their functions, as well as their correct use in order to be protected from diseases caused by highly contagious viruses and bacteria.
What are facemasks?
Also known as respirators, face masks, surgical masks or mouth masks, is a type of device made to filter impurities from the outside air, so that toxins, bacteria or aerosol viruses do not enter our body.The purpose is to prevent toxins, bacteria or virus aerosols from entering our organism. In this way we can prevent viral diseases and infections (such as flu or influenza) because our respiratory system is protected by not being exposed to these negative agents, avoiding the vulnerability of the body’s immunology.
Most of these masks (especially in the case of surgical masks) cover the nose and mouth of the person (to avoid inhaling toxins or bacteria by any means). We can see their use in most cases by medical personnel during operations or during the application of treatments, but their use is also recommended for the civilian population to prevent the spread of diseases.
What is the use of face masks for?
The main function of the masks is to protect people from inhaling microscopic agents harmful to the body that are present in the air and that can cause serious diseases in the respiratory system. Why? Well, when these microorganisms come into contact with the organism, they reproduce inside it, altering the functions of the immune system and reaching the point where it is decimated by the aggressiveness of viral or bacterial mutations.
It is for this reason that when we get sick, we acquire a very overwhelming fatigue, the body weakens and the organism is fighting an intense battle to eradicate all the harmful microorganisms, which can affect for a long time the internal organs or the effectiveness of their functions, even after having eradicated the problem.
With coronavirus, it is important to constantly wear surgical masks that are strong enough to prevent leakage of these toxic agents to avoid both infection and spread of the disease. and prevent leakage of these toxic agents, to avoid both contagion and spread of the disease. Because this virus can be in the air (aerosol) and in the liquid micro particles that come out after sneezing or coughing, besides that they remain adhered to surfaces for a long time (depending on the type of material).
Types of masks and how to use them properly
There are different types of masks depending on the function they are expected to fulfill or the material they are made of, and for this reason you should be aware of which one you need depending on your situation..
1. According to the origin of the air
This type of masks are used with two functions, the first one is that they can filter the air from the outside and the second one is that they can create their own air system. Among which there are two types:
1.1. Purifying masks.
As we have been talking throughout the article, the main function of this type of masks is to prevent people from inhaling toxic outdoor microorganisms present in the air and small liquid particles. It can be from a polluted environment, to protect from chemical toxic agents, to avoid breathing dust or dirt and to prevent contagion by some aerosol viral disease.
They are the most common and at the same time diverse of all masks, they can be obtained in pharmacies or specialized centers and are quite affordable for all the public.
1.2. Air-supplied masks
As their name indicates, they are special masks that have their own air system, through oxygen cylinders, this is done in order to provide air to people who find it difficult to breathe normally. They are generally used in intensive care units, personnel working with toxic or biohazardous materials, firefighters, chemical experts and those working in laboratories.
2. According to use
In this category you can find masks according to their daily use.
2.1. Hygienic masks
They are considered a non-sanitary product and are a complement to the distancing measures imposed by the WHO and the governments of each country. They must cover the nose, mouth and chin, and are fastened to the back of the head or around the ears.
They are made of different textile materials but it is recommended that they have a breathable fabric such as cotton, which should form the inner layer of the headgear. The outer part should be made of a waterproof material. As they are a non-sanitary product, their use is recommended for prevention and only for those persons who do not present any type of symptoms of a viral disease, since they do not prevent contagion.
2.2. Surgical masks
These are used by health personnel, doctors, nurses and patients infected or suspected of having an infectious agent. They are designed to filter the exhaled air and their function is to protect the people around them and not the wearer, since they function as a protective barrier in case of sneezing or coughing, but do not prevent contagion.
This mask is tightened so that the nose, mouth and chin are closely protected, its duration will depend on the manufacturer and its use should not exceed four hours for reasons of hygiene and comfort. The colored part goes to the outside while the face with the metal band is the one that fits over the nose.
2.3. PPE masks
These types of masks are known as personal protective equipment and their use is to reduce the risk of contagion between the personnel and the user. They are also recommended for very vulnerable people as their purpose is to filter the air that is inhaled and thus eliminate the entry of contaminating particles into the organism.
3. According to European standards (FFP)
These are the classifications derived from the EPI masks and are the most recommended for their protection and filtration capacity of impurities.
3.1. FFP1 mask
These masks have an effectiveness level of around 78% and their purpose is to prevent the person wearing them from catching any disease. It is widely used in the working world, especially in the use of poison and the manufacture of aerosols.
3.2. FFP2 Masks
They have an effectiveness of 92% and are designed to keep the user protected from catching and infecting other people. Its use is common in those cases where there is exposure to smoke, dust and pollutants that cause respiratory problems.
3.3. FFP3 Mask
They are the most effective masks since they have a protection power of 98% and their protection is high. It is widely used in those cases where there is contact with carcinogenic, radioactive and poisonous particles.
4. According to US standards (N)
These are masks that are evaluated according to their degree of resistance to oil. They are distinguished according to their filtration capacity, which are 3 grades (95, 99 and 100)
4.1. No oil resistance (Class N)
These masks have a very high filtration, between 95% to 99.97% of the microparticles found in the air. Among these are: N 95, N 99 and N 100.
4.2. Oil resistant (Class R)
These masks are indicative of resistance to microscopic particles of fluids, such as blood, fluids or liquids. They are available as: R 95, R 99 and R 100.
4.3. Oil-proof (Class P)
These are the most resistant of all and can therefore protect most effectively. They are distinguished as: P 95, P 99 and P 100.
General recommendations for the use of respirators
Before using your mask, you should take into account some recommendations.
Keep in mind that washing hands before and after putting on masks is extremely important to avoid cross-contagions.
Make sure that the mask is not loose, i.e., that there are no gaps on the sides.
Wear your mask properly at all times and avoid having it under your chin when you are in crowded areas.
The mask should be put on and taken off inside the house.
Once it is in place, it should not be touched. If any readjustment is needed, it should be done through the bands or straps.
The mouth guard should be dry and clean at the time of use, if it gets wet during use, it should be replaced immediately. When you get home, wash it, dry it and air it.
Cotton masks are the most recommended.
Although masks cannot protect us completely, since it is impossible to filter out microscopic particles in their entirety, they are an effective tool to protect our health, they are an effective tool to protect our health in times of epidemics and pandemics. and pandemics.