What Is a Surgical Mask?

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Surgical masks used to be common only in the healthcare industry. However, with the COVID-19 outbreak, they became essential in the whole world and gained a lot of popularity. Since then, there have been all types of masks including surgical masks, cloth masks, and even the N95 respirators.

When it comes to a surgical mask, it is one having 3 layers of different materials, usually found in green and blue shades and some others as well. A surgical mask is essential to prevent the spreading of things like coronavirus and helps spread multiple other diseases.

Who can wear a surgical mask?

Surgical masks are not specifically made for anyone. It can be worn by anyone looking for generic protection from spreading germs or getting others' germs. So, you can wear it regardless of age if you suffer from a cough or flu.

However, wearing a surgical mask has some restrictions in special cases. You cannot use it if you need more than just basic protection. Additionally, if you have any respiratory disorder, it is recommended to use it after consulting with professionals.

Occasions when you can wear a surgical mask

While wearing a mask was always essential during the COVID-19 outbreak, things are different now. Now you only must wear it on special occasions. Say that you are going to a hospital or a healthcare center. You will need to wear it so that you do not get contaminated with airborne germs around you.

Similarly, always wearing the mask, even when you are home, will be vital if you are coughing or sneezing. It helps protect everyone from your germs. Lastly, you can wear a surgical mask when going out in some areas with pollution. These masks are great for keeping dust out of your nostrils and hence prevent allergies. So, always wear a surgical mask when you are going to someplace with pollution.

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How is a surgical mask made?

A surgical mask is made by stamping different layers of varying materials together. The process starts with taking different layers of materials used in making a mask and stacking them up.

Next, a machine cuts them to sizes, puts the metal strip in place, and stamps the layers together. A machine then folds the mask to the right size and attaches the loops over your ears. After this stamping process, the mask is ready for use.

What are the different layers of surgical masks?

Surgical masks are usually made with 3 layers. Each layer has a different purpose and is made with a unique material. Below are all the details you must know about the different levels of your surgical mask:

Layer1

The first layer is the surgical mask's internal fabric, made with a nonwoven spunbond process.

Layer 2

The second layer is the main one, bringing the most important filtration results. So, it is used with a nonwoven melt-blown procedure that includes electrostatic charging.

Layer 3

The third layer is similar to the first layer in terms of production. However, the difference in its working is that it filters out the bigger particles from the outside while the inner layer filters out particles from your mouth and nose.

Do surgical masks tend to filter microorganisms?

Surgical masks do not have filters installed like some other masks. Moreover, these are designed to block large droplets and particles from going inside your body through breathing. However, there is no protection from very small particles inside the air, including microorganisms that can transmit from sneezes and coughs.

What are the different levels of surgical masks?

Surgical masks are of 3 different levels. The level of the mask defines its tendency to protect you from contaminants in the air. You can also call it the barrier performance of that level, and below are the details of each level of a surgical mask:

1. Level one provides low barrier protection. It is only good for general usage, where you don’t deal with fluids and sprays.

2. The second level provides moderate barrier protection. It is good for using moderate or low fluids and sprays.

3. Level 3 provides maximum barrier protection, and it is perfect for areas where the risk of fluids and sprays is the highest.

The basic testing metrics

Even when the surgical mask is made for general usage, it must undergo 5 key performance tests, as elaborated below.

Bacterial filtration

It is a test that measures the tendency of surgical masks to filter bacteria. While these masks are not designed to filter all bacteria, they can still filter out bacteria larger than 3 microns, which significantly improves the prevention of spreading diseases.

Particulate filtration

Particulate filtration is the efficiency testing to check the filtering power of the surgical masks. These masks must filter out particles larger than 1 micron and not allow them to pass through.

Breathability

Surgical masks do not come with any filter installed to enhance the airflow. So, these are breathability tested to check the resistance within a controlled airflow. Extremely high resistance by the mask creates an uncomfortable breathing situation, while low resistance makes the mask more comfortable for users.

Fluid resistance

Fluid resistance tests the surgical mask's tendency to resist the flow of 2 milliliters of synthetic blood. This fluid is introduced to the surgical mask at a high velocity, and the results are concluded upon visual inspection.

Flammability

The last test for surgical masks is a flammability test which checks the time a 5-inch far-exposed flame takes to proceed up the mask's material. Flammability testing is not critical for surgical masks, and it is good to go when it passes Class One flammability testing.

Is a surgical mask the same as the N95 respirator?

No, a surgical mask is not the same as an N95 respirator. The respirator has multiple layers inside it, and those are so closely stamped that there is no air passage through the mask's surface. So, these respirators use filters that allow for the passage of air. The main reason for using an N95 respirator is to protect against the spread of airborne particles including bacteria and viruses.

How to use a surgical mask.

Wearing a surgical mask is simple. However, there are still some common mistakes that can ruin your experience. So, follow the tips below for a safer and more convenient experience with your surgical mask.

Always wear a clean one.

The first important thing you must know about using a surgical mask is always wear a clean one. The mask must be clean from the inside and outside, and wearing a new mask every time is recommended since wearing it for once until getting it contaminated from the inside and outside germs.

Surgical masks come in protective bags that prevent air and particles from contacting the mask. So, it will be your best practice to keep your masks on those bags and only take them out when you are wearing them.

Good for single use.

Surgical masks are good for single use only. It means that once your mask gets off your face, it should not go on it again. If you only remove it for a little while as you eat or sip your drink, it is recommended not to completely remove it and only slide it slightly lower.

That way you will keep other things in the surroundings from spreading the germs. If you remove the mask from your face, do not store it as it is made for single use only.

It must be disposed of properly.

You must properly dispose of your surgical mask as soon as you remove it. It is essential to prevent your or someone else's accidental usage of a mask again. One of the best practices is cutting the loops that go behind the ear so everyone knows that the mask is not good for usage.

Find bins that take masks as waste and throw yours away in there. The process of throwing your mask away does not finish there. You must make your hands germ-free after removing and throwing them away.

Should a surgical mask sit tightly on your face?

No, a snug fitting like an N95 respirator is not essential. However, you must ensure that you are getting as much coverage from the mask as possible. Especially in the areas under your chin and over your nose, you must try to get a perfect fit, which would be more than enough for your protection.

Final verdict

A surgical mask has become an essential accessory for almost everyone of all ages. You never know when you need one since most places still follow the SOPs regarding wearing a mask. Similarly, some healthcare units do not allow people to visit without wearing a mask. Most importantly, you must always wear it if you risk spreading germs to others through your sneezing.

If you are also looking for high-quality masks at a reasonable price, feel free to contact us. At Wellmien Health experts, we are always available to cater to all types of requirements regarding buying surgical masks.

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