While the health care professionals are fighting on the frontline to find treatment for contagious diseases, it is the responsibility of common man to play their part. Being a responsible individual, you should be aware of the importance of wearing a face mask. It helps protect the person from getting infected with contiguous diseases. WHO has declared COVID-19 as a pandemic, USA, Canada, South Korea, England, and the Czech Republic has made the wearing of face mask mandatory for its citizens.
How face mask work?
The primary role of the face mask is to stop the particles to move out in the environment and also prevent the entry of particles inside the person through nose and mouth. A study in Lancet has also found the relation of wearing face masks to reduced infection.
In an experiment conducted by Dr Rich Davis at Clinical Microbiology, Providence Sacred Heart concluded that virus spread quickly without covering the mouth. He coughed on two agar plates wearing a mask and without a mask. After incubation of the plates, he observed that while microbes germinated in agar plate coughed without a mask, there were no microbes in agar plate coughed with a mask.
While many scientists believe that most virus transfers from surfaces, some also believe airborne particles to be the source of these transmissions. In an experiment, he studied the sufficient protective distance for the masks. He placed agar plates 2, 4, and 6 feet away and coughed on them with his full force. In comparison, he observed that droplets landed <6 feet, but the mask stopped all the bacterial particles.
Although the experiment was mostly studying the bacterial transmission, all those particles which transfer through droplet follow the same procedure.
Why wear a face mask in public?
Wearing a face mask was common practice for people allergic to dust particles before COVID pandemic, but it is an essential requisite these days. Social contact is not avoidable these days when you have to go to work or carry out daily chores. So, it is highly recommended to wear a face mask while moving in public. While people may be a carrier of a virus without any symptom of the disease, they are the potential threat to spread the disease. As they are not aware themselves of the danger they possess, they can infect other people too. Grocery stores, subway stations, medical stores, are the places where the gathering of the public is unavoidable. So to prevent the spread of disease from one individual to others, people should wear face masks in public.
With the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, research is ongoing in effective ways to eliminate the disease. And among these research, particular emphasis is also done on the usage of mask in the community. Result of some of the investigations conducted at various institutes showed that;
- Research on the effectiveness of surgical mask against protection from SARS revealed that surgical N95 masks were very effective to protect against transmission of the virus. Even the ill-fitting face masks also blocked the transfer of particles to a large extent.
- A study conducted on the material of masks and their effectiveness also revealed that manufactured surgical face masks were quite effective over cotton face masks in preventing the spread of virus. Whether surgical face masks or cotton face masks both prevented the transfer of droplets.
- Research in Nepal concluded that while the surgical masks are for one-time use, the cotton masks can be rewashed for usage. But it comes with the drawback that with every wash the efficiency of face mask is reduced.
How important is it to wear a face mask when out of the house?
Facemask acts as a protective agent against spreading the diseases which spread through airborne particles. Apart from that, it prevents the spread of infectious particles; the person wearing a mask is also protected from getting the infection. Some of the points you should know about wearing a mask are;
- The air around us consists of numerous dangerous microbes which can cause serious illness when entering the body. Wearing a face mask prevents these microbes from entering the body and causing disease.
- Viral diseases do not show symptoms as soon as a person becomes infected with them. It takes time for them to develop symptoms, and till a person becomes aware of the infection, he is at the risk of infecting several other people in the surrounding. The transfer of respiratory diseases occurs through droplets which are produced as a result of coughing and sneezing. These particles move through the air and then enters the body of another person through nasal passages and mouth. So, if a person is wearing a mask, he has built the first line of defence to avoid the entrance of virus in the body.
- Face masks and respirators are used to filter airborne particles so that harmful microbes do not enter the body and cause disease.
So, it is necessary to wear a face mask when moving out of the house.
Points to consider while wearing a face mask
While the healthcare professionals emphasize wearing face masks, you should know that;
- There is no side effect of wearing a mask. Whether you wear the face mask whole day except N-95 mask, which causes rashes or sores on long term usage, as it fits tightly around face, it can cause sweating along with skin rash.
- People suffering from respiratory diseases such as emphysema or asthma, they might feel shortening of breath while wearing a mask. The condition is not adverse, but in the case, the body is exposed for a longer duration to high CO2, and reduced oxygen can be chronic.
- Recycling of CO2 is an essential concern for many people while wearing masks, but that does not pose a severe threat to the health of a person.
- Whether it is a surgical N-95 respirator of a cotton mask, both are effective in preventing entry of microbes to the body. N-95 being superior inefficiency but that does not mean if you don’t have access to N-95 mask, you should take the risk of walking around without a mask.
While the debate is still ongoing on whether face masks are effective in preventing the spread of viral diseases COVID-19 or not, it is better to protect yourself by wearing a face mask rather than exposing yourself to the virus.
Manoj Parmar has been working in the manufacturing and importing of medical and healthcare supplies for over 15 years. He currently works at Glove Club Ltd which was established in 1994 and a leading manufacturer and supplier of medical consumables with products including disposable gloves, masks, dental and paper products. Bringing his wealth of experience he has recently started Supreme Wellbeing, supplying a range of vitamins and supplements. You can find him on Linkedin or Twitter @p4rma