While masks like surgical masks and respirators such as the N95 have emerged to be an essential instrument for everyone to keep them protected from contracting coronavirus disease- wearing a mask comes at a cost. Wearing a mask for too long can affect a person badly because just like everything else in the world, masks have pros and cons. But because wearing a mask was and remains to be a need of the time, people have resorted to ignoring the bad or troublesome part of wearing a mask since a mask is easier to bear with rather than a ventilator.

However, the risks that are associated with the usage of a mask like the surgical masks cannot be ignored forever since a surgical mask’s aftereffects are bound to start showing up after a while. Aside from some of the more common problems such as the difficulty in breathing and the feeling of agitation that makes you want to rub your eyes when wearing a mask, masks can sometimes lead to dire health problems. The surgical masks especially and the material included in them can turn out to be particularly harmful to a person’s health.

Surgical masks can be a source of facial irritation and the dyes that are used in a surgical mask can also cause issues such as agitation and hypersensitivity. People with sensitive skin and prior skin issues may be the most vulnerable to these problems. Also, these problems may occur when one is using a typical Polypropylene surgical mask. But there is also a different kind of surgical mask that may be harmful to a particular lot of people and that is the surgical face mask that contains latex.

What is latex?

Latex is a liquid with a milky appearance that is extracted from trees and is used in the production of materials such as rubber, apparels foams, pillows, diapers, medical equipment such as surgical masks, etc. There are two kinds of latex, the natural latex that is the original kind and is extracted from plants, and the synthetic latex that is manufactured by combining two petroleum compound-styrene and butadiene. While both latexes have properties that can harm people in different ways, the synthetic latex is the more harmful one and can even lead to the terminal disease of cancer.

Synthetic latex is the man-made version of the original latex that was created as a means to curb the scarcity of natural latex to increase the production of all latex-made materials. Synthetic latex is mostly included in mattresses and has been deemed harmful as it contains a chemical that could lead to the incurable disease of cancer. So among the two categories of latex, synthetic latex is the far more harmful one.

Coming on to natural latex, this latex that is obtained through the traditional method which involves the freshly acquired liquid to be baked into its original form is used in face masks mostly and for the most part, isn’t considered harmful as it does not contain any harmful chemicals either. However, natural latex could be very harmful to people who are allergic to these materials and could cause them some serious health problems. People who are allergic to these materials could encounter some serious trouble in the form of itching, burning of the skin, swelling of face, dizziness, tightness of chest and throat, and shortness of breath as well.

These symptoms are deadly and more than enough of an indication that the person has a latex allergy and must be treated urgently. Moreover, a person who is going to be using a latex surgical mask for the first time must first do a self-diagnosis without wearing the actual mask to analyze whether this person has a latex allergy or not. In-case of even the slightest hint of an allergy, the person must remain far away from latex surgical masks or any other latex-made product as well.

Should you wear a latex-made surgical mask?

While Polypropylene surgical masks are more preferable and the more common type to be used in medical procedures and for other purposes as well, latex surgical masks are also widely used. Now addressing the famous question-are latex surgical masks safe and okay to use? The answer is both yes and no. Yes, if the latex material used in the surgical mask was obtained naturally and no if the surgical mask is made from synthetic latex.

Synthetic latex contains cancerous chemicals and is severely harmful. However, the surgical masks that are obtained from the natural latex, which is acquired through plants are safe for use and impose little to no threats. The only threat imposed by surgical masks that are made of natural latex is for people who may have an allergic reaction to latex. But other than that, latex face masks are perfectly safe to be used.

Conclusion

The takeaway from the above discussion is the observation of the fact that nothing is either perfectly good or perfectly bad. Surgical masks, even the ones that are not created with latex could result in various health problems for people. But the surgical masks manufactured from latex are simply misunderstood by people to be bad. As established before in the above discussion, a latex-made surgical mask is okay to be used, as long as the latex was natural and not synthetic.

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