A medical mask, also called an oral or facial mask, is meant to be worn by medical professionals in healthcare settings. It’s designed to prevent inhalation of bacteria and droplets in the air by capturing airborne bacteria which are shed from the mouth and nostrils of the wearer and catching them in a protective covering.
There are lots of different types of medical masks available and are used by a variety of medical professionals. Some of the common uses for medical masks include providing protection to the respiratory system and eyes from infectious disease and minimizing exposure to contaminated equipment. Other uses include protecting the respiratory system from chemical pollutants and irritants, reducing exposure to harmful agents, preventing damage to the eyes, skin, and nasal cavities and helping to protect the skin from burns and abrasions.
The many diverse materials used to create medical masks vary from latex to silicon. Latex masks have long been a preferred material by many medical professionals because of their ability to resist bacteria and other contaminants while maintaining adequate ventilation. But while they’re resistant to infections and contaminants, latex masks can deteriorate and may not provide sufficient ventilation or are too thin. While they are more durable than many other kinds of medical mask materials, they are not ideal for extended periods of use.
Polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam or High-Density Silicon, is a fairly new type of health mask material. This sort of mask is similar to a plastic container, which is generally made of a high density foam that has an airtight seal when stuffed with medical waste and placed inside the hospital.
Styrofoam is typically thick enough to prevent germs from getting into the patient’s respiratory system and is designed in such a way that air can be pumped through the mask quickly. Because it is not thick, it’s also able to move around freely, keeping the nose clean and the mouth dry and avoiding contamination from the patient’s sneezing, coughing or breathing heavily. They are more expensive than other medical mask materials but have shown to be an effective option for hospital employees.
Silicone is a natural product and therefore will not degrade over time like other materials. It has a water-resistant covering and can be easily molded into any shape or form, making it very versatile. However, it is much less readily cleaned as other substances and requires frequent replacement or professional cleaning.
Since these masks are designed for use by healthcare employees, they need to be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis to help keep the patient and staff protected. This should be done by a trained professional using antibacterial solutions, which is typically included in any equipment purchased by the hospital or medical facility.
Cleaning is simple since the substances are nonporous and there are no chemicals used to clean them. They require only a simple wipe down with a damp cloth or wet wash cloth to remove excess moisture and germs. In cases of excessive wear, like in the case of prolonged hospital work hours, it’s important to clean the mask often to avoid contamination and ensure a fresh infection-free atmosphere.
The solution should be allowed to sit for thirty minutes, so it doesn’t soak in the mask but instead to the skin beneath. After the sanitizer has been implemented, it’s important to rinse the mask off completely with clean water to remove any residual sanitizer.
Cleaning masks in the hospital can be a pain for the staff members, but if done correctly can prevent infections and reduce costs by protecting the employees and patients from contaminants that could infect them. Even a very simple solution of one cup of bleach diluted in two quarts of water is sufficient to effectively disinfect and sterilize the mask, preventing it from spreading germs and potentially causing a serious infection.
Although sanitizing is very important besides the obvious reason of preventing contamination, the mask itself might also need sanitizing to eliminate food, drink or other material which may get into the air during use. By way of example, if there are individuals that are in and out of the room during the course of this day, the mask may frequently become contaminated during their usage. Cleaning this area of the mask using a bleach solution gives a clean-air space that prevents contamination and allows the air to flow freely. Bleach solutions may also be used to sanitize tools and instruments in the room, in addition to clean up droppings from patients and staff.