Countries from across the world to formulate mitigations to demobilize Covid-19 transmissions. Therefore, mask mandates were born. Mask mandates require citizens to wear protective masks while in public. According to a study, wearing masks can help prevent a further surge of the contagion. In fact, the worldwide Covid-19 tracker showed slight mobility in transmission. Masks are indeed proven protective gear in this time of need. However, not all masks are created. Some offer quality protection. Others offer not as much.
With the reported scarcity of the N95 mask, the surgical mask is now being used widely by people. Before the pandemic, masks like surgical masks had been used widely in hospitals. Be it in operations or other medical procedures, the surgical mask was the mask to go. In absence of the N95 mask, people working in the medical field wear multiple plies of surgical masks just to keep themselves protected.
How does a surgical mask work?
Physically the surgical mask has two colors; blue on the outside and white on the inside. The surgical mask has elastic straps that are wrapped around the ears. The surgical mask has three-walls of protection in which the center part of the mask, which is a non-woven fabric, does the filtering magic.
Although the surgical mask is not as effective as the N95 mask, the surgical mask is still proven to filter large particles. It prevents the wearer from contacting fluids on the outside and traps fluid particles like saliva and phlegm on the inside. The surgical mask is waterproof and must be disposed of every after use. The surgical mask is loose-fitting; making it more prone to leakage. Thus, safe to use even those with breathing difficulties can use this. The surgical mask is loose-fitting; making it more prone to leakage.
With the scarcity of the N95 mask, healthcare workers are wearing multiple surgical masks all at the same time. Since the surgical mask is not as efficient as the N95 mask, healthcare workers don as much as 3 to 5 surgical masks at the same time.
Putting an extra layer of the surgical mask does not necessarily mean it can provide more protection. Putting an extra layer of a surgical mask lowers the risk of contamination. Adding an extra layer of a surgical mask can effectively filter viruses and bacteria. With more layers of surgical masks, the lesser particles can infiltrate the body.
Putting layers of surgical masks is guaranteed safe. There have been no claims certifying the surgical mask as an obstruction to breathing. In fact, there is a study proving that putting layers of surgical masks is safe. American researchers have done the research, proving that putting layers of surgical masks is safe. The researchers have used a pulse oximeter to keep track of the oxygen saturation. The subject wore the first layer of a surgical mask. The oxygen level remained at 98%. The oxygen level decreased by 1% after the subject donned a cloth mask over six layers of surgical mask. These readings from the pulse oximeter are considered normal. Because the normal oxygen level reading is at 95% to 100%
The catch is healthcare workers use multiple layers of surgical masks for longer periods of time. This is in response to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to the scarcity of protective masks. Extending the use of the surgical mask means that the mask is donned for an extended period while attending to patients with similar respiratory conditions.
What are the effects of wearing surgical masks for longer periods?
Healthcare workers have been wearing multiple surgical masks ever since the pandemic has started. While wearing the surgical mask is deemed safe, it has drastic effects on the face. There were unforeseen effects on the face of the healthcare workers. One of the effects is having pressure ulcers on the surface of the face. Pressure Ulcers result from the constant pressure of wearing protective masks like the surgical mask. Pictures of healthcare workers with pressure ulcers on the surface of their faces went viral; showing the effects of wearing the surgical mask for longer periods of time. Some pictures have unusual skin color changes from pale to reddish.
Another one is Maskne. Maskne is an umbrella term for skin conditions or acne-related conditions that are caused by wearing protective masks like the surgical mask. Bacteria, Oil, and Dead skin cells clog the pores. The longer the surgical mask is on the face, the more it contributes to the accumulation of substances on the face.
Should people be wearing surgical masks for a long time?
People who are eligible to wear the surgical mask for longer periods of time are those who are working on the front lines. People who are not working on the front lines are not advisable to wear the surgical mask for longer periods. Although the surgical mask is safe to wear, it can still induce discomfort with longer periods of wearing.
CDC recommends people not to use the surgical mask and reserve the mask for healthcare workers. Another reason why people should not buy the surgical mask is that the mask itself is experiencing a shortage. People can use other alternatives to the surgical mask. These alternatives are way more comfortable than the surgical mask. One of the recommendations is wearing a cloth mask. IT is comfortable, affordable, and convenient. The good thing about the cloth mask is it is washable and can be reused.