Near the end of 2019, the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 emerged from China and took a hold on the entire world. Though most people who become infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, only experience mild symptoms, a large part of the population suffer severe symptoms: difficulty breathing, fluid in the lungs, and even respiratory failure.
By now, you’ve likely heard the news about wearing a mask to prevent coronavirus. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that even healthy people wear a face mask for virus protection. Wearing a mask can keep you from spreading the virus. Still, there’s plenty of debate over one question: Can a face mask prevent coronavirus? Will any mask work? What kind of mask should you get?The answer to this question depends on the type of flu mask you choose.
Types of Masks
Below are the most popular types of face masks to prevent coronavirus:
- homemade masks made of cloth
- 3-play surgical mask
- N95 mask
Types of Masks: Homemade Masks
The CDC recommends wearing a cloth face mask for flu even if you don’t have any symptoms. You should wear this covering when you can’t keep a six-foot distance from other people. You should wear the mask whether you’ll be outdoors in a public place or inside any building besides your home.
Keep in mind that a cloth coronavirus mask is not enough protection on its own; you still need to maintain physical distance and wash your hands.
Do Face Masks Work?
- Keep wearing masks whenever you’re in a public setting, especially if you’ll be somewhere with a high likelihood of transmission. This includes pharmacies and grocery stores.
- Don’t allow any children under 2 years old to wear these types of masks. Nor should people who have trouble breathing or who cannot remove their own mask in an emergency.
- Opt for cloth masks instead of N95 or surgical masks. These are critical supplies of protection from coronavirus and should be left for medical first responders.
- Exercise extreme caution with homemade masks. They should cover both the mouth and nose. The masks would work best in conjunction with a face shield that covers the rest of the face.
- Wash a homemade mask after every single use. To remove it, grab the loop by the ear and remove without touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. Immediately wash your hands before doing anything else.
Benefits of Homemade Masks
- As long as you have common materials at home, you essentially have an unlimited supply of cloth masks.
- Any covering reduces the risk of spreading the virus through sneezes, coughs, or normal conversation.
- Any covering is better than not wearing any mask, especially if you must be somewhere where there are lots of people.
Risks of Homemade Masks
- They could give a false sense of security. Just because masks do protect others better than not wearing a mask, they are less effective compared to respirators or surgical masks. A study indicates that they may be up to 50 times less effective at protection against coronavirus than N95 mask uses.
- You still have to maintain physical distance when wearing them. You still need to wash your hands properly for the best chance at protection.
Types of Masks: Surgical Masks
Three-ply surgical masks are loose-fitting masks that cover the chin, mouth, and nose. Like their homemade variants, they’re used to:
- Protect the flu mask user from large-particle droplets, splashes, and sprays
- Prevent respiratory secretions from the user to others around them
The exact design of surgical masks vary between brands, but they’re usually flat and rectangular with horizontal folds. There is a metal strip in the top of the face mask for flu that you can press to your nose to secure it in place for extra protection from coronavirus.
Long hair ties and elastic bands can help keep the mask securely on your face. You can loop the bands together behind your head, or you can loop them on your ears.
Types of Masks: N95 Respirators
Do face masks work? N95 mask uses proves that they absolutely do. This is a tight-fitting mask that protects the users against large droplets, sprays, and splashes too. This face mask for virus protection can also filter 95 percent of tiny particles, including bacteria.
This mask to prevent coronavirus comes in an oval shape meant to seal against your face tightly. You can also use elastic bands to further secure this face mask for flu.
Certain types of N95 mask uses come with an exhalation valve, meant to mitigate the buildup of humidity and to facilitate easier breathing.
Not all designs for the N95 mask to prevent coronavirus fit any random person. It is necessary to get one fit-tested on your face to make sure it’ll seal. If it doesn’t seal, then you don’t get the protection from this flu mask.
Even after you know you have a respirator that will fit you, you have to check the seal every time you put a new one.
N95 Mask vs KN95 Mask vs 3-Ply Flu Mask
Do face masks work as protection from coronavirus? A N95 mask uses materials that allow it to filter up to 95 percent of small particles while sealing itself firmly around your face. This is also true of the KN95 coronavirus mask.
The FDA recently permitted KN95 mask usage due to a national shortage of the N95 coronavirus mask. Surgical masks, however, do not offer this same amount of protection.
One main difference between the N95 masks and the KN95 face mask for virus protection is the latter usually relies on earloops to protect the user. On the other hand, the N95 mask uses two straps on the head to secure the covering in place. One strap goes under the ears and the other goes above them. Truly, it’s a matter of personal preference whether you’re more comfortable wearing straps or ear loops on your masks.
Protection From Coronavirus: How to Use Face Masks
If you have COVID-19 symptoms, the best thing you can do is stay at home and try to recover. If others live with you, wear a surgical mask to prevent the spread of disease. Even though the masks will not need cessarily give others protection from coronavirus, they’re designed to trap infected secretions and keep them from spreading.
Do face masks work? When used correctly, yes:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. If available, follow it up with hand sanitizer.
- Inspect your mask for any holes or tears.
- Find the metal strip in the mask. This is the top.
- Position the mask so the blue side faces away from you.
- Place the mask so the metal strip is on your nose. Mold the strip to either side of the bridge.
- Loop the bands of the mask behind your ears.
- Pull the mask down carefully by its bottom. It should cover your chin, your nose, and your mouth.
- Do not touch the mask anymore unless you’re taking it off. If you need to adjust the mask, wash your hands afterward before doing anything else.
- To remove the mask, unloop the ear bands. Do not touch the mask by the front.
- Get rid of the mask in a closed bin, and wash your hands again.
You can find surgical masks at your local pharmacy or order them online.
Are Face Masks Effective? Do Face Masks Work?
How effective is a face mask for virus protection? SARS-CoV-2 transmits between humans via tiny droplets, generated whenever you sneeze, cough, or even talk. It’s not known exactly how many virus particles guarantee infection, but you can catch it by breathing in the particles. So how much protection can a mask to prevent coronavirus actually offer?
Homemade Face Mask
Homemade masks may be the easiest kind of mask to access, but it offers the least amount of personal protection. However, it can still make a difference stopping the spread of the virus in people who don’t have symptoms. The CDC still recommends that you wear some kind of flu mask in a public setting. Coronavirus mask protection works best when you keep washing your hands and keep your distance.
Surgical masks can also stop the spread of the disease and the virus, but it’s not sufficient for protecting the wearer. The mask cannot filter out tiny particles, and air leakage could occur if there are droplets on the outer side of the mask.
N95 masks offer the greatest protection against tiny respiratory droplets, including those that contain the coronavirus. However, it’s not recommended to use this coronavirus mask outside of hospital settings. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that you must be fitted for N95 masks to wear them. Otherwise, they’re not as effective. These masks are also uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. Further, our supply of N95 masks is limited worldwide, so we need to save them for those who need them. However, if you already have your own N95 face mask for virus protection, feel free to use them.