A medical mask, also called an oral or facial mask, is meant to be worn by medical professionals in health care settings. It’s designed to prevent inhalation of bacteria and droplets from the air by capturing airborne bacteria which are shed in the mouth and nostrils of the wearer and catching them in a protective covering.
There are many different forms of medical masks available and are used by many different 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 irritants and contaminants, 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 different 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 sufficient 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 stronger than many other types of medical mask materials, they are not ideal for extended periods of use.
Polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam or High-Density Silicon, is a relatively new type of medical mask material. This type of mask is like a plastic container, which is generally made of a high density foam that has an airtight seal when stuffed with medical waste and placed within the hospital.
Styrofoam is normally thick enough to prevent bacteria from getting into the patient’s respiratory system and is designed in such a way that air can be pumped through the mask immediately. Because it is not thick, it’s also able to move around freely, keeping the nose clean and the mouth dry and preventing contamination from the patient’s sneezing, coughing or breathing deeply. They’re more expensive than other medical mask substances but have proven to be an effective option for hospital employees.
Silicone is a natural product and so 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’s not as easily 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 easy since the substances are nonporous and there are no chemicals used to wash 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 prevent contamination and ensure a fresh infection-free environment.
To disinfect the mask, sanitizer solutions should be poured into a spray bottle and allowed to soak into the foam. The solution should be permitted to sit for thirty minutes, so it doesn’t soak into the mask but instead into the skin beneath. After the sanitizer has been implemented, it’s important to rinse off the mask completely with clean water to remove any residual sanitizer.
Cleaning masks at the hospital can be a pain for the staff members, but if done properly can prevent infections and reduce costs by protecting the employees and patients from contaminants that can infect them. Even a very simple solution of one cup of bleach diluted in two quarts of water is sufficient to purge and sterilize the mask, preventing it from spreading germs and possibly causing a severe infection.
Although sanitizing is quite important besides the obvious reason of avoiding contamination, the mask itself might also need sanitizing to eliminate food, drink or other substance which can get into the air during use. For instance, if there are individuals that are in and out of the space during the course of the day, the mask may often become contaminated during their usage. Cleaning this region of the mask using a bleach solution provides a clean-air area that prevents contamination and allows the air to flow freely. Bleach solutions may also be used to sanitize tools and instruments in the room, as well as clean up droppings from patients and staff.