Face Mask

What is Face Masks

A Face mask devices that may help prevent the spread of germs (viruses and bacteria) from one person to another. They are one part of an infection-control strategy that should also include frequent hand washing and social distancing.

Facemasks should not be shared. Facemasks and respirators may become contaminated with germs (viruses and bacteria) that can be spread between people.

The term "facemasks" refers to disposable facemasks cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as medical devices. This includes facemasks labeled as surgical, dental, medical procedure, isolation, or laser masks.

A facemask is a loose-fitting, disposable device that creates a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the wearer and potential contaminants in the immediate environment. Facemasks may be labeled as surgical, laser, isolation, dental or medical procedure masks. They may come with or without a face shield.

Facemasks are made in different thicknesses and with different ability to protect you from contact with liquids. These properties may also affect how easily you can breathe through the facemask and how well the facemask protects you.

If worn properly, a facemask is meant to help block large-particle droplets, splashes, sprays or splatter that may contain germs (viruses and bacteria) from reaching your mouth and nose. Facemasks may also help reduce exposure of your saliva and respiratory secretions to others.

While a facemask may be effective in blocking splashes and large-particle droplets, a facemask, by design, does not filter or block very small particles in the air that may be transmitted by coughs, sneezes or certain medical procedures.

Facemasks also do not provide complete protection from germs and other contaminants because of the loose fit between the surface of the facemask and your face.

Facemasks are not intended to be used more than once. If your mask is damaged or soiled, or if breathing through the mask becomes difficult, you should remove the facemask, discard it safely, and replace it with a new one. To safely discard your mask, place it in a plastic bag and put it in the trash. Wash your hands after handling the used mask.

Patient Protection

A medical face mask prevents splashes and droplets from the wearer from infecting his patient. If a doctor, dentist or surgeon coughs or sneezes during a procedure, the mask can keep the germs from hitting a patient who may be susceptible to sickness.

Caregiver Protection

A medical face mask can also be used to protect a medical practitioner from contagious disease, by preventing blood and bodily fluids from contacting the wearer's face. Medical face masks are often used in this way to prevent the spread of the flu. For uses of personal protection when treating highly contagious patients, the medical practitioner will more often wear a respirator, which is better able to protect against very small particles in the air.

Particle Inhalation

While face masks can help prevent the spread of blood borne pathogens, they have not been proven effective against the inhalation of small particles and aerosols that contain viruses according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Though respirators are better suited for protecting against small particles, they still are not guaranteed to prevent diseases such as influenza.

Effects Based on Usage

Though the medical benefits of face masks are not conclusive, results are better when masks are used properly. The mask should be worn over the mouth and nose and must be worn consistently in conditions that could spread disease. After a mask has been used once, it should be discarded.