During this year, the whole world was hit by a devastating situation: the COVID-19 pandemic. This disease, called the coronavirus disease 2019, is caused by a respiratory virus that is part of the coronavirus genus and has been named the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2). It has not only caused countless deaths, but it has also resulted in a decline in our economy and mental health.
Among all the work fields affected by this situation, the medical one has been, without a doubt, the most affected one. We’ve read the stories of collapsed healthcare facilities throughout the year, as the number of patients they’ve been receiving during the peaks of the pandemic have surpassed their capacity. This has also caused the amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies needed in these facilities to increase, resulting in shortages of the most necessary items in the USA.
Probably the most prominent topic of discussion has been the use of face masks, as they have been one of the most powerful resources to control the transmission of the virus while the vaccine is still being studied. The use of face masks has been highlighted during the last couple of months, as a new surge of COVID-19 cases is already happening during the holidays.
In this article, we’ll discuss what constitutes a surgical mask, who needs to wear them, and which are some of the popular surgical mask models used.
What constitutes a surgical mask?
Surgical masks are the most used type of face mask by medical workers. Most people have seen these masks, which are characteristically blue and white, being worn by all types of healthcare providers, including dentists, doctors, nurses, paramedics, and others. They’re important in the healthcare field for protection during all types of medical or surgical procedures, and often people think that regular disposable face masks are the same as these.
Surgical masks have to go through specific regulations to be used safely in healthcare settings. They are designed to provide high levels of fluid resistance, as they have to act as a physical barrier during procedures between the environment and the mouth and nose of the wearer. This prevents any solid or liquid material released during the procedure to penetrate the mask and be in contact with the wearer’s face.
Besides the function as a physical barrier, they also act as filters, but this activity in them is limited. Surgical masks only filter out large particles, like bacteria, but not like viruses which have a much smaller size. N95 masks are considered the best option when it comes to virus protection, as they provide high antiviral filtering properties. They’re also called N95 respirators and can filter out other particles like dust and smoke, giving them multiple uses outside the healthcare field as well.
Surgical masks offer the protection described above in both directions. They don’t only protect the wearer from the fluids released during the procedures, but they also prevent the user from releasing respiratory fluids into the environment. These fluids might contain microorganisms that can contaminate the sterile field and cause an infection on the patient, and this is why these masks are so important in situations where healthcare providers have to maintain a sterile field. They’re also useful for treating immunocompromised patients, as they can develop serious infections from usually harmless microorganisms.
Surgical masks are a type of disposable face mask, which means they’re not designed to be reusable. After being used, they must be removed and discarded in the corresponding container. They should also be removed and replaced with a new one as soon as they’re visibly dirty, damaged, or wet, and they can’t be shared with other colleagues. Like all disposable face masks, they should be handled by the ear loops and never touching the facepiece itself, washing the hands before and after to avoid contamination of both the hands and the mask.
Do surgical masks have different models?
As we mentioned, the name ‘surgical mask’ is specifically used for a type of mask designed with very specific characteristics and tightly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their use during procedures in the healthcare field. Regular disposable face masks used by the general public are often mistakenly called surgical masks, but these can’t be worn with the same intention.
These face masks can be used by the general public for virus protection during the COVID-19 pandemic, and these can have multiple different models. Surgical masks don’t have different models, as they’re a standard mask that must always have the same characteristics.
However, if you’re looking for different models of disposable face masks, which people usually refer to as surgical masks (but actually aren’t), here are some popular models:
- Curad Antiviral Face Masks
- Medpride Disposable Masks
- Litepak Premium Disposable Face Masks
To finish this informative article, we want to highlight the importance of following the recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They don’t recommend the general public to use medical-grade masks and supplies, as they’re currently very critical items necessary in the healthcare field and for other frontline workers. Some of the scarcest items include not only surgical masks, but also KN95 masks, face shields, hand sanitizer, gloves, gowns, and N95 masks, among which some of the most popular are the 3M N95 masks models like the 3M 8210, 3M 1860, and 3M 8511.
The disposable face masks mentioned in this article can be worn by kids above the age of 2 if found in a size that will fit their face properly.