In the initial phase of the COVID-19 outbreak, the World Health Organization and CDC suggested the general public not to wear the face mask. They said that people who are diagnosed with this infection or who are taking care of their sick infected family members as well as only high-risk groups people are needed to wear masks not anyone else.
However as the primary healthcare departments including CDC and WHO start learning more and more about this new coronavirus induced disease they shifted their opinions with regard to the necessity of face masks for the general public. Now both CDC and WHO recommend wearing a face mask to everyone excepting children aging less than 2 years, in order to prevent the spreading of coronavirus.
At present there are three best face mask options for coronavirus protection is available for everyone including the high-risk group people. However, based on the specific requirement and circumstances certain face masks should be reserved for people who are highly in need of them so that there would be no shortage in the market for them.
Now the face masks have emerged as an emblem against the fight of the new coronavirus caused disease. Along with maintaining 6 feet distance in public places, it is also highly crucial to wear face masks by everyone in order to slow down the spreading rate of this deadly outbreak.
What are the best face masks available in the market?
With the dramatic rise in the number of new coronavirus's positive patients worldwide the government officials of all the countries have made a strict rule with regard to wearing a face mask as must to follow rule especially in places where maintaining social distancing with others seems highly impossible.
However, here one important question arises in mind that which particular face mask should have been considered the best and effective one. It is true that not all face masks are made of the same material and accordingly it provides the level of protection to its users. So it is vital to consider here some important factors while finding out the best possible anti-virus mask for you.
The two main things that you must look for while evaluating the effectiveness of an anti-viral mask include the filtration level and fitting which are well elaborated below.
- Filtration- Filtration level of any face mask indicates the percentage of droplets and microscopic particles that are obstructed and prevented from entering via the mask.
That means as greater the filtration level would be of a face mask there will be the least possibility of entering any virus causing particles inside or outside the mask. Hence it is less likely to spread the infection to others.
- Fitting- Along with sound filtration level it is also vital to check the fitting of a face mask in order to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the coronavirus. A well-fitted face mask prevents any virus causing particles to sleep out of or enter inside the mask.
This gets possible only because the microscopic particles do not get any loop or place neither from sides, bottom or top to get inside or to go outside of the mask. In this context, it is important to mention here that often face masks are considered as mouth masks which is wrong. A mask must give protection to your mouth and nose both then and only it can be considered as effective.
Types of Face Masks for Coronavirus Protection
The anti-virus masks are primarily divided into two types i.e. medical masks and non-medical cloth masks and these are further subdivided based on the materials used in a particular mask and level of protection it provides to the user.
All face masks have their specific pros and cons with respect to fitting, comfort, and protection level it offers against coronavirus or viruses in general. Some commonly available best face masks option for coronavirus protection are enlisted below-
N95 Face Mask
This is the most effective and well-recognized face mask to give protection against coronavirus risk. The name of this particular mask indicates that it can block up to 95% of microscopic particles i.e. 0.3 microns that are extremely difficult to capture.
The N95 face mask is designed for only single-use purposes only and it is made of polyester and other synthetic fibers. It contains the layers of tangled fibers which are used for the filtration work in this particular mask type. This tangled fiber layer makes it simply impossible for the tiny particles to pass through it.
While wearing this mask you need to ensure that there would no gap remain between your skin and edges of the mask. The mask contains a nose piece which is molded to the face of the user. To check the perfect fitting of this mask annual fit tests is conducted by the healthcare workers as well as other workers. The fit-test helps in evaluating whether there is air leakage or not to ensure that the mask fits perfectly on the face of the tester.
In case the tester has facial hair then this mask would not fit perfectly on his face. Also, this particular mask doesn’t fit well in children as well. Some of the N95 masks contain exhalation valves on its front which make breathing work easier. These types of N95 are preferably used by people engaged in construction work.
However, it is crucial to note here that a mask with valves must not be used in places that are meant to be sterile such as operating rooms in hospitals. This is because wearing such masks in these areas would not give protection to other people from what you breathe out.
Medical masks are less effective in comparison to N95 masks. Also, this particular mask has very few varieties. Some of the medical masks filter about 60 to 80 percent of tiny particles under the lab conditions. If worn appropriately this type of mask can reduce the coronavirus spreading rate to a great extent by blocking the droplets of the infected person if he or she wears this mask properly.
This type of mask is often made up of layers of breathable fabric such as paperlike synthetic. The layers remain cut in the rectangular shape, containing pleats that help it to expand easily and get fit perfectly around the face. The medical-grade masks are designed for one-time usage only hence, it must be disposed of after a single-use.
Though this mask can give protection against the large droplets and splatter but its loose-fitting can make you vulnerable to contract the coronavirus. This is why it is considered less effective than N95s.
Due to the limited supply of medical masks with comparison to its market demand many people have opted to make their own homemade face masks with a cloth. Also, these homemade masks are easily available in the market at cheaper cost so really helpful for those who are neither getting the medical masks nor they can make the homemade masks by own.
Depending upon the used fabric and its way of making a homemade mask has the potential to offer same level protection as you get from the usage of medical version masks. An effective homemade face mask uses dense material in it so that it can easily capture small viral particles. Hence prevent the spreading as well and contraction risk of coronavirus.
However, density doesn’t mean that it will make your breathing difficult. Cotton fabric is the best choice for making your own homemade mask in the fight against the new coronavirus outbreak. Moreover, as per your necessity, you can prepare as many as you want with much little or negligible expense.
The materials that can be used while making your own homemade masks include dense cotton t-short, and flannel or tightly woven dish towel. Any material with a greater thread count that allows the very little amount of light to penetrate is likely to offer the best possible protection.
What makes this type of masks unique for coronavirus protection is that you get several patterns, to design a cotton mask at your single search on the internet. However, for the best level protection, you should choose only the pattern which contains at least two layers of material. Also, your homemade masks should give coverage to your lower part of the nose and below the chin area. Other than that it must have secure straps to keep it in its place firmly.
Homemade Mask with Filters
This is another type of homemade mask which is generally made from 100% cotton t-shirt that contains a pocket sewed in for holding additional filter. A coffee filter is generally used in this particular mask. Other than that paper towels can also be used as a filter in this mask.
In one experiment two layers of paper towels used in this particular mask where it managed to block up to 23 and 33% of 0.3-micron size particles. There are several materials that have been experimented by the public in general in the preparation of homemade filter masks as filter material including vacuum bags and air filters.
These experimented materials may work effectively but also contains risk. This is because some of these materials are not breathable ones as well as contain some harmful fibers that the user could inhale easily. Above all on average people do not require the filtration level that these materials offer.
Irrespective of the material that you use as a filter in your mask, make sure that it contains a layer of cotton or cotton-like material on either side of your filter just like the pocket in this particular mask.
Remember you can only expect from a mask to work effectively if it is worn properly by you and fits snugly from the top of your nose to below the chin area without any gap. Make sure that you wear your mask for the whole time till you stay outside from your house to prevent your risk of coronavirus.
Also in between, do not move your mask up or down. Though no particular mask works 100% effectively, however, the wearing of a mask while you are outside ensuring the protection for you as well as for others along with maintaining social distancing of 6 feet and regular hand washing.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How does face masks work?
When someone infected with coronavirus talks, coughs or sneezes in front of a healthy person they send tiny droplets loaded with coronavirus into the air. Hence who so ever comes in the contact of this droplet they get infected immediately. Herein lies the role of a face mask as it blocks those tiny droplets within the layers of a mask and prevents the spreading of this highly contagious disease.
A face mask covers your nose and mouth properly hence when you or someone else sends the infectious droplets while sneezing, coughing, or talking it ensures that nether it go out of the mask’s layer nor it could enter inside the mask from outside.
Can face masks protect a person from the coronavirus risk?
A cloth face mask does not fully block the coronavirus but yes it adds one extra layer of protection for the person who is wearing it while in a public area, especially where it is difficult to maintain social distancing from others. For an enhanced level of safety from the coronavirus risk, you must wear your face mask along with other safety measures such as regular handwashing with soap and water and maintaining social distancing of 6 feet from others.
What fabrics are best for a cloth mask?
As per the CDC's recent study report a cloth mask made of tightly-woven fabric is best in all respect. This is because it does better filtration work by blocking the tiny particles between its layers. An effective face mask should have built-in-filtration with finely woven cotton, silk, linen, and polyester.
How many layers of fabric exist in a mask?
Any face mask should have at least two layers of fabric in order to work effectively. The studies that have been conducted to date say that a mask with a single layer gives a very little amount of protection as it can’t block or filter the microscopic particles in the lack of layers in it.
Does the mask need to be comfortable?
A person may need to wear a face mask for the whole day or for prolonged hours so it is highly essential that the fabric of your mask is soft and smoother. Otherwise, any rough and tight material can cause rashes and discomfort if you continue wearing such a mask for an hour or more.
Can wearing a face mask cause difficulty in breathing?
An ideal face mask maintains a proper balance between filtration and breathability with a perfect breathable layer of fabric. A mask may provide the highest level of filtration feature but it may prove useless if you face difficulty in breathing. In case of no breathable mask, the possibility remains of passing more air through the gaps on the top and sides of this mask which simply make it ineffective for its targeted work. So it is a must that your mask remains breathable.
Is the mask washable?
Yes, your mask must be sanitized after each use in order to ensure that it works effectively every time you wear it. The best way of washing a mask is by putting it in a waster at 140 degrees F. However masks with a metal piece in it can’t be washed this way. It needs to be washed with your hands very carefully.
In the current era pandemic of COVID-19 disease, the face masks are considered as an important tool to beat this traumatic fight for which any definite medical solution has not been evaluated to date. However, it is vital that you choose the right form of face mask so that you can get optimal benefit and safety out of its usage. The best face mask options for coronavirus protection mentioned above are effective for everyone however special masks like N95 and medical masks must be tried to be reserved for people who are highly in need of them or who come in a high-risk group.View Article Sources