A medical mask, also referred to as 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 that are shed from the mouth and nostrils of the wearer and capturing them in a protective covering.
There are many unique types of medical masks available and are used by many different medical professionals. Other applications include protecting the respiratory system from chemical pollutants and irritants, reducing exposure to dangerous agents, preventing damage to the eyes, skin, and nasal cavities and helping to protect the skin from burns and abrasions.
The many different materials used to create medical masks range from latex to silicon. Latex masks have long been a preferred material by many medical professionals for their ability to resist bacteria and other contaminants while maintaining adequate ventilation. However, while they are resistant to infections and contamination, latex masks can deteriorate and may not provide adequate ventilation or are too thin. While they are more durable than many other types of health mask materials, they aren’t ideal for long periods of usage.
Polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam or High-Density Silicon, is a relatively new type of health mask material. This sort of mask is similar to a plastic container, which is generally produced from a high density foam which has an airtight seal when filled with medical waste and put inside the hospital.
Styrofoam is normally thick enough to prevent bacteria from entering the patient’s respiratory system and is designed in such a way that air can be pumped through the mask immediately. Because it’s not thick, it’s also able to move around freely, keeping the nose clean and the mouth dry and avoiding contamination from the individual ‘s sneezing, coughing or breathing heavily. They are more expensive than other medical mask substances but have proven to be an effective option for hospital employees.
Silicone is a natural product and therefore won’t degrade over time like other materials. It’s a water-resistant covering and can be easily molded into any shape or form, which makes it very versatile. However, it is much less readily cleaned as other substances and requires regular replacement or professional cleaning.
Since these masks are designed for use by healthcare workers, they should be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis to keep the patient and staff shielded. This should be done by a trained professional using antibacterial solutions, which is usually included in any equipment bought by the hospital or medical facility.
Cleaning is simple since the materials 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 bacteria. In cases of excessive wear, such as in the case of prolonged hospital work hours, it’s important to wash the mask often to avoid contamination and ensure a fresh infection-free atmosphere.
To disinfect the mask, sanitizer solutions should be poured into a spray bottle and allowed to soak in the foam. The solution should then be allowed to sit for thirty minutes, so it doesn’t soak in the mask but rather into 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 simple solution of one cup of bleach diluted in two quarts of water is enough to purge and sterilize the mask, preventing it from spreading germs and potentially causing a severe infection.
Although sanitizing is quite important besides the obvious reason of preventing contamination, the mask itself might also need sanitizing to eliminate food, drink or other material which can get into the air during use. For instance, if there are individuals that are in and out of the room throughout the course of this day, the mask may often become contaminated during their usage. Cleaning this area of the mask with a bleach solution gives a clean-air space that prevents contamination and allows the air to flow freely. Bleach solutions can also be used to sanitize tools and instruments in the room, in addition to clean up droppings from staff and patients.