The novel coronavirus, which originated in China, has spread around the world. While most COVID-19 cases were reported to characterize mild symptoms only allegedly, there are severe cases that cause difficulty in breathing, pneumonia, respiratory failure, and even death.


You might have come across the term "mask," "face mask," "surgical mask," and the likes. This is not surprising given the situation today where people are keen on protecting themselves against the still incurable virus. 


A face mask is a staple nowadays. The mask prevents the inhalation and the transmission of the virus via the respiratory system. 


In this article, we'll learn about the several types of face masks, what type of mask you should use, and who is the one's perfect to wear a certain mask?


The three types of face masks


The three basic types of face masks are homemade cloth face mask, surgical mask, and the N95 respirator. 


Let's discuss each type below:


  1. Homemade cloth face masks


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nods the use of homemade face masks. To prevent or at least decrease the chances of virus transmission via the respiratory system. 


CDC approved its usage with the provision that when the wearer is in a public place, he or she should observe the 6-foot distance from another individual. An added provision is that the wearer, before and after entering a public place, should thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water. 


  1. Surgical face masks


Before the pandemic, surgical masks are staple protection used by healthcare workers inside hospitals and other places where people check-in for treatment. They are disposable, loose-fitting that cover your nose, mouth, and chin. 


Surgical face masks prevent you from inhaling or exhaling the following:


⦁    Aerosoles

⦁    Sprays

⦁    Liquid splashes, and;

⦁    Large-particle droplets


  1. N95 respirators


N95 respirators are the most tight-fitting mask among the two masks mentioned above. It is often considered the more superior mask in terms of protection. It doesn't only protect you from aerosols, sprays, liquid splashes, and large-particle droplets. It also prevents the transmission of small particles in the air, which includes viruses and bacteria.


N95 respirators are oval-shaped that are designed to tightly cover the areas of your nose, mouth, and chin. It used an elastic band to hold the mask securely in place. 


Who should use which type of face mask?


Ideally, everyone should have access to N95 respirators or at least to surgical face masks. Currently, the supply of any face mask is dire due to the overwhelming demand of almost all countries in the world. 


Because we can't supply everyone with N95 respirators, it's common sense that health workers and every front-liner doing their bit in the world right now to prevent coronavirus transmission, should be prioritized in terms of N95 respirators and surgical face masks.


Therefore, civilians, staying at the comforts of their homes, can use homemade cloth face masks if they're only wearing it within their house's premises. Groceries, on the other hand, or any public places where people are going in and out, call for the usage of surgical masks.


Even if we prioritize front liners, it doesn't mean that we don't indulge ourselves with the supreme protection of an N95 respirator. As long as your country can comfortably supply its health workers and front-liners with N95 respirators without sacrificing its supply for quarantining civilians, you're free to purchase such protective gear. 


Final thought


The use of masks wouldn't mean anything without accompanying it with other measures such as keeping a healthy body, maintaining hygiene, washing hands, keeping a 6-foot distance, and so on. 


So, purchase a mask with a conscious effort to strengthen your immune system.