The recent severe shortage of face masks is caused by very high demand resulting from the worldwide spread of the new coronavirus causing COVID-19 disease. Probably you have already discovered that there are plenty of face masks types. How not to get lost in this huge amount of information? How to decide whether you should or should not wear a mask? What type of face masks should you choose? How to wear it properly and when to wear it? Can I wash it and reuse it? How? All these questions may bring a headache! Our simple guide was created to help you to understand the basic types of face protection and the rules of proper use and cleaning.
What is a face mask?
First of all, letís define what a face mask is. As the Cambridge Dictionary definition says, it is a device worn over the nose and mouth to prevent the wearer from breathing in or out harmful substances, such as bacteria, viruses, or other particles. There are other types of face protection such as safety glasses and face shields. In our guide, we will be talking about the mouth and nose covering face masks.
Who should wear face masks?
Nowadays basically everyone should wear a mask: medical staff, patients and a healthy population. Not only to feel safe but also to protect the health of oneself and others.
Health care workers and caregivers should have easy access to the protection equipment as they are the ones who save our lives while risking their own. They should wear respirators and surgical masks, depending on the tasks performed.
Sick people should definitely wear face masks in order not to infect the medical staff, caregivers and other people.
People who work in the crucial sectors for the economy and our everyday existence should also be extra protected.
In the times of pandemic of the new coronavirus more and more people are required to wear face masks. Some countries impose this obligation on all of their citizens. These requirements will probably increase. Even without the obligation, it is advisable to protect your face for two reasons. First of all, if you are sick in order not to spread the viruses or bacteria, second of all, if you are healthy and want to protect yourself. Masks are used to decrease breathing out and breathing in germs, viruses and other particles like pollution. People who stay can stay home during the pandemic should use face masks while shopping and doing all the necessary tasks outdoors. In the future, mask wearing will probably become a constant element of our everyday life.
Why masks became so important during the new coronavirus pandemic?
Fighting against COVID-19 is not easy, as the coronavirus that provokes this disease is new for the human population. We do not have antibodies to fight with the disease yet. There are people who suffer from the COVID disease but have no symptoms at all, it is crucial to wear masks as we donít know who can be infected.
How face masks protect others
It is estimated that about 25% of the people infected with the new coronavirus do not show any symptoms at all. Letís not forget that apart from the new coronavirus there are plenty of other viruses and bacteria. The time of pandemic is not good to go to the hospital for any reason! The studies have shown that using a simple mask prevents the vast amount of viral droplets and some of the aerosol particles from going out. Wearing a fabric face mask, whether it is a cotton or polyamide mask, blocks almost completely the possibility of infecting other people.
How wearing a fabric face mask can protect you
Simple fabric masks are very good at blocking the outgoing droplets and particles. But does the same rule concerns inhaling the viruses and germs? It all depends on the material, filtration, proper fit and use. You do not need the have a medical-grade mask if you apply to the rules of the social distancing and remember about not touching your face and wash your hands with soap often. If you use a fabric mask with a decent filtration (for example two layers) and you wear it properly your chances of acquiring coronavirus, or any other virus or bacteria are going down.
What are the face mask types?
There are plenty of types of face protection; here we will mention just the most common ones i.e.: respirators, surgical masks and fabric face coverings (barrier masks).
Respirators block inhalation of very small particles, including viruses, if the filtration level is high enough. They are molded and their edges form kind of seal around the mouth and nose. This close fit and very high filtration level make it one of the most efficient face masks. Respirators are tested in the direction of inspiration. They exist in valved or unvalved option. The unvalved respirators provide two-way protection: protecting the wearer and other people. A valved respirator will only protect the wearer. The ones with valve ease breathing and do not increase the temperature inside as much as the unvalved ones. The most common model used is the FFP2 model (the equivalent of N95) with stops at least 94% of tiny particles (0.3 microns).
The next type of face protection is surgical masks, sometimes called medical or procedure masks. They are intended for health care workers during surgeries and nursing. They have a loose fit and their main aim is to block the bacteria, viruses and other particles from the wearer's mouth and nose. They decrease the risk of the wearer of inhaling particles. These masks are tested in the direction of exhalation. They are disposable and should not be reused.
Cloth face covering, also called barrier masks, give more options. Their purpose is to facilitate the provision of protective equipment for a healthy population. They provide an additional defense against the new coronavirus. Their performance level is less rigorous than the one required from surgical masks and FFP2 respirators. Together with the compliance of the protective measures, the barrier masks offer real protection for employees, public workers and all healthy people who wear them during their daily activities in the public space.
What are the materials used in the production of the masks?
There is a whole variety of materials used for the face protection masks. The construction of respirators is more complicated than the construction of other face coverings. The respirators' parts are made of tough and flexible non-woven polypropylene fiber, polyurethane and polyester, sometimes cotton mesh. The surgical masks are made of non-woven fabric created using a melt blowing process (TNT). Barrier masks for the healthy population have many possibilities such as cotton, polyamide and other fabrics that provide filtering.
What are the protection levels?
We can talk about 3 levels of certified and standardized filtering for respirator masks. FFP (Filtering Face Piece) masks divide into 3 categories: FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3. The higher the number, the better protection.
FFP1 are the masks of the lowest filtration grade, they the filter and block at least 80% of particles size 0.3 microns or more. This mask is mainly used as a dust mask (home renovations and various types of work).
FFP2 masks have a minimum of 94% filtration efficiency. They are currently used for protection against the new coronavirus. They are equivalent to N95 which blocks 95% of the particles and these names are very often used interchangeably.
FFP3 masks provide the highest protection with a minimum filtration percentage of 99%
Respirators provide inhalation protection while surgical masks are intended to provide protection for the patient against the wearerís respiratory emissions and provide the wearer protection against large droplets splashes, spays and other fluids from the outside.
How to fit properly a cloth face covering?
To decrease the risk of acquiring the virus and to increase the mask protection you need to remember to choose a mask with layers to provide better filtration. The mask should adhere comfortably to the face and it should be secured with the ear loops, bands or ties. You should be able to breathe without restrictions.
What you need to know about face mask cleaning and reuse.
The respirators and surgical masks should be disposed of after being used. Facing the severe shortage of protection equipment there are trials of sterilizing disposable masks. However, this is a subject of research and reserved for specialized technology. The reason why it is very hard to disinfect an FFP mask is that it is meant to be disposable. Do not try to clean and reuse respirators or surgical masks on your own.
Unlike FFP masks, which require complex, industrial methods of disinfection, a cloth face covering can be disinfected by standard machine washing. You should wash your fabric masks routinely according to the washing instructions after every use. Usually, it is recommended to use high temperature and soap or detergent. Before reusing, make sure that the mask is not damaged and completely dry. Never share your mask with anyone.
Where can I buy fabric face masks?
Currently, there are plenty of places where you can buy barrier masks online. We highly encourage you to buy at brazilianbikinishop.com, because we have decided to make the sale of these masks support the global movement to fight against coronavirus spread. Thus, for each mask purchased, 15% is donated to the support fund launched by the WHO: COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO. We also create jobs for the local community and maintain several businesses operate during this unprecedented crisis.
Before touching the mask wash your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer. Make sure that the mask is in good shape, see if it doesnít have holes or tears. Check carefully where is the front and the top part of the mask in order to wear it correctly. The mask may be equipped with ear loops, ties or headbands:
Ear loops: grab the mask by the ear loops and place them around your ears.
Ties: bring the mask to your nose level and secure the top ties around your head crown with a bow. Take the bottom ties and secure with a bow at the nape of your neck.
Headbands: bring the mask to your nose level and secure it with your hand. Using another hand pull the top strap over our head crown. Next, pull the bottom strap over your head and make it rest at the nape of your neck.
Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask. Once the mask is fixed on your head, adjust the stiff edge (if there is one) to the shape of your nose. The stiff edge is often made of aluminum and bends easily. Finally, pull the bottom of the mask over your mouth and chin.
Avoid touching the mask while using it.
When and how to remove a face mask correctly?
Remove the mask when you are done using it, for example when you are back home. It is advisable to have always an extra mask when you leave home and a plastic bag to dispose of the used mask. Read carefully the mask use instruction to know how long you can use it. Remember to replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp.
First of all, when you want to remove your mask clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer. Do not touch the front of the mask as it is contaminated. Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Remove the face mask by touching the ear loops, ties or headbands:
Ear loops: hold both of the ear loops with your hands, lift gently and remove the mask.
Ties: first untie the bottom bow, then the top bow; once the ties are loosened pull the mask away.
Headbands: lift the bottom strap over your head first then pull the top strap over your head.
If the mask is disposable throw it in the trash. If the mask is washable Ė wash it according to its washing instructions. In the end, clean your hands well with soap and water or hand sanitizer.
How did Brazilian Bikini Shop organize the production of thousands of masks intended for medical the staff and general public?
Brazilian Bikini Shop in collaboration with several Brazilian swimwear producers organized production of the barrier masks just in 3 weeks. Since 18th March, 6 brands have already decided to dedicate a part or all of their production to mask manufacturing. Finding the proper suppliers in a very short amount of time was challenging. After the arrival of materials, the factory production was transformed from 100% bikini into 100% face masks. Third parties also collaborate with Rio de Sol brand and support the production of the masks by manufacturing face masks at home. Thanks to this move, masks for hospitals and clinics as well as barrier masks for the general public are manufactured in great numbers. This move allowed saving the factory, peopleís jobs, creating new jobs, manufacture the product that was suffering severe shortage and support the global goal which is t stop the spread of the new coronavirus. For each mask purchased, 15% of the price is donated to WHO: COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO.
The future of fabric face masks
The masks will probably become a constant part of our everyday life and a part of our everyday outfits. We can observe that the demand for masks is changing. People started to look for reusable and washable face masks made in fun, colorful and unique designs. Patterned cloths, unique patchwork, and fun-loving designs will decorate our faces and protect our health.