4 December 2020

What are the types of masks and what is their difference?

Masks can be divided into two types: medical (surgical) masks – disposable and non-medical masks – usually reusable.

A modern medical disposable mask consists of a filter layer that is located between two outer layers (three-layer masks), as well as a flexible aluminum insert (nose clip) to ensure a more snugly fit of the mask. The mask is fixed to the face with elastic ear loops (strings, elastic bands). Medical masks are made of synthetic non-woven material, its middle layer has a filtering function.

Non-medical masks (protective masks, bandages, etc.) are most often made of fabric. These masks can be of industrial production or made independently, and, as a rule, unlike medical masks, they do not have manufacturing standards.

Regardless of the type, the mask can help reduce the risk of spreading viruses in the environment and reduce the likelihood of infecting others. Medical and non-medical masks differ in the 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 a mask?

The main function of the mask is to block moisture droplets that are formed when coughing and sneezing, and in which microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, etc.) can be suspended.

Proper use of masks can limit the spread of microorganisms to a certain extent.

When should I use the mask?

Use masks in all places where it is impossible to ensure social distance (for example, in public transport, in shops, in enclosed spaces, indoors and outdoors in crowded places, etc.), regardless of the season.

What rules should be followed when using masks?

To ensure the effective use of masks, a number of rules must be followed:

  • wash hands with soap or sanitize with an antiseptic after touching a used mask;
  • put on and take off the mask, holding the strings (elastic bands);
  • do not touch the fixed mask with your hands;
  • a used disposable mask should be stored and discarded in a plastic bag, a used reusable mask should be stored in a plastic bag until washing*;
    * At home, the mask must be washed using soap (detergent), separately from other things. After washing, the mask should be steamed using a steam iron or steam generator. Then iron it (with no steam) to remove moisture. The mask must be completely dry!
  • use the mask for no more than 2 hours or less (before moisturizing)**;
    ** Replace the mask immediately if it gets wet (moistened), even if less than two hours have passed since use.

A properly dressed mask should be fixed with strings (elastic bands) in a position where the lower part of the face – both mouth and nose – is completely covered as tightly as possible to the skin. If the mask has a nose clip, give it the shape, ensuring a snugly fit of the mask to the face.

A mask covering only the chin or only the mouth does not perform a protective function!

The use of masks is effective only in combination with other prevention methods (minimization of contacts, hand hygiene, disinfection of objects).