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 reduce inhalation of bacteria and droplets in the atmosphere 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 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.
The many diverse materials used to create medical masks vary from latex to silicon. But while they are resistant to infections and contamination, 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 aren't ideal for extended periods of usage.
Polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam or High-Density Silicon, is a relatively new sort of medical mask material. This type of mask is like a plastic container, which is generally made of a high density foam which has an airtight seal when stuffed with medical waste and put within the hospital.
Styrofoam is normally 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 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, making it very versatile. However, it is much less easily cleaned as other substances and requires regular replacement or specialist cleaning.
Since these masks are intended for use by healthcare employees, they should be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis to 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 materials are nonporous and there are no chemicals used to clean them. In cases of excessive wear, like 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 environment.
To disinfect the mask, sanitizer solutions should be poured into a spray bottle and allowed to soak in the foam. The solution should be allowed to sit for thirty minutes, so it doesn't soak in the mask but rather to the skin beneath. After the sanitizer has been applied, it's important to rinse off the mask 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 staff and patients from contaminants that could infect them. Even a 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 bacteria and possibly causing a severe infection.
Although sanitizing is very important other than the obvious reason of preventing contamination, the mask itself might also need sanitizing to remove food, drink or other material which may get into the air during use. For example, if there are patients that are in and out of the space during the course of the day, the mask can frequently become contaminated during their usage. Cleaning this region 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, as well as clean up droppings from staff and patients.