What kind of masks are there and what is the difference?
Masks can be divided into two groups:
- medical (surgical) masks – disposable
- and non-medical masks – usually reusable.
A modern single-use medical mask consists of a filter layer between two outer layers (three-layer masks) and a flexible aluminum insert (nose clip) for a snugger fit. The mask is attached to the face with elastic ear loops (straps, elastic bands). Medical masks are made of synthetic non-woven material and their middle layer has a filtering function.
Non-medical masks (protective masks, bandages, etc.) are most often made of fabric. These masks can be industrially manufactured or self-made and usually have no manufacturing standards, unlike medical masks.
Regardless of the type, a mask helps reduce the risk of spreading viruses into the environment and reduces the chance of infecting other people. Medical and non-medical masks differ in their degree of filtration. While medical masks capture about 95-98% of inhaled particles, the filtration efficiency of non-medical masks and bandages is much lower (up to 50%), depending on the number of layers and the density of the material.
What is the main function of the mask?
The main function of a mask is to barrier the droplets of moisture produced by coughing and sneezing, which can trap suspended germs (viruses, bacteria, etc.).
Proper use of masks can limit the spread of germs to a certain extent.
When should a mask be used?
Use masks in all places where social distance cannot be maintained (e.g. on public transport, in shops, in confined spaces, indoors and outdoors in crowded places, etc.), regardless of the time of year.
What rules should be followed when using masks?
To use the masks effectively, a number of rules must be observed:
- Wash your hands with soap and water or treat them with an antiseptic agent after touching a used mask;
- put on and take off the mask by holding the elastic bands;
- Do not touch a fixed mask with your hands;
- a used single-use mask should be kept and disposed of in the bag; a used reusable mask should be kept in the bag until it has been washed*;
- *In the home, the mask should be washed separately from other items using soap (detergent).
- After washing, the mask can be steamed with a steam iron or steam generator. Then iron (without steam) to remove moisture. The mask must be completely dry!
- Use the mask for no more than 2 hours or less (before moistening)**;
- **Replace the mask immediately if it becomes wet (moistened), even if less than two hours have elapsed since use.
- A properly worn mask should be secured with the ties (elastic bands) in a position that fully covers the lower face – both mouth and nose – as closely as possible to the skin. If the mask has a nose clip, shape it to fit snugly over the face.
- A mask that only covers the chin or mouth has no protective function!
And remember: using masks is only effective when combined with other prevention methods ( reducing the amount of contact, hand hygiene, disinfection of objects).