What are the different types of face masks?
by Kapua Iao
Over the past few months, questions concerning face masks have increased; in fact, a mid-July Paubox blog post addressed why face masks are necessary.
Here, we want to further explore the three main types of masks and whey they are needed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is a face mask?
Generally, a face mask creates a physical barrier between the mouth and nose and possibly infectious, transmittable materials within the environment.
Made of different thicknesses and materials—the three main mask types being N95 respirators, surgical masks, and cloth masks—are not equal in their resistance to all particle sizes.
N95 respirators (also called filtering facepiece respirators): personal protective equipment (PPE) designed to seal around the nose and mouth to achieve a close facial fit; some have exhalation valves to safeguard the respiratory tract. N95 masks are efficient at filtering all size particles.
Surgical masks (or medical masks): PPE designed to be loose-fitting, so while they are fluid-resistant they do not create tight seals; individuals do not have full protection from inhalation of airborne pathogens. Surgical masks are not efficient at filtering smaller particles.
Cloth masks: not PPE and designed to be loose-fitting and reusable, keeping those around a wearer protected (rather than vice versa). Cloth masks can slow down the spread of a virus when used widely and regularly.
Studies over the past decade find that masks limit the spread of viruses, particularly when combined with other safety measures, such as:
- Social distancing
- Good hygiene
- Frequent hand-washing
- If necessary, face shields and/or goggles
And in healthcare settings, other PPE depending on the situation.
Face masks, the general public, and COVID-19
Toward the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare agencies advised against the use of face masks by the populace.
At that time, not much was known about the virus itself and PPE worldwide shortages had institutions such as the World Health Organization (WHO) advocating limited use.
Now, both the WHO and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend cloth masks for the general public and surgical or N95 masks for healthcare providers.
According to the CDC, “Masks are a critical preventive measure and are most essential in times when social distancing is difficult.”
Worldwide research demonstrates their efficacy but changing guidelines and misinformation have encouraged face mask debates and protests throughout the world. Recent U.S. polling suggests a third of Americans do not wear masks in public areas.
Let patients know the importance of mask-wearing
Wearing a cloth face mask is just one more tool to slow disease transmission and prevent COVID-19 cases from peaking in communities all at once.
Healthcare officials and providers should communicate up-to-date facts and recommendations regarding face masks and coronavirus in general.
They should encourage the public and patients to wear face masks when not at home and let everyone know how to protect themselves and others as we all learn to navigate the new landscape together.
One of the easiest and most effective ways that you can get the word out is by using a HIPAA compliant email marketing solution such as Paubox Marketing. Our product allows you to communicate with patients en masse about the evolving coronavirus landscape and the most up-to-date healthcare guidelines.
RELATED: Healthcare Email Marketing Use Cases
Your marketing emails are delivered directly to your recipients’ email boxes—no password or portal required.
Paubox Marketing makes it possible for you to share the correct information about how we can all protect ourselves and others during this challenging time.