Masks have become an essential element in our day to day life. However, not just any piece of cloth can be used as a mask, as there are some basic criteria recommended by health institutions, which will allow you to guarantee your protection and that of those around you.
Next, in this article, we explain what you should take into account when buying a mask, since from its typologies to your current situation, they are basic characteristics that can determine the use of one type of mask or another. Remember that masks are a complementary means to other preventive measures to avoid contagion of viruses and other types of infections, such as washing your hands frequently, keeping your distance and reducing social contact.
Types of mask
One of the most important aspects when buying masks is knowing their different types, since each one is adapted to the current situation you are going through. These are the main types of masks :
- For healthy people, the most recommended are hygienic masks.
- For sick people, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, the use of surgical masks is recommended .
- For those people who are in direct contact with the virus, whether they are health workers or caregivers of Covid-19 positive people, PPE masks must be used.
- In the case of girls and boys, the use of hygienic masks is recommended from the age of 3, always according to their age range.
How are hygienic masks
Hygienic masks are the most common. It is a protection complement recommended by health institutions, along with other preventive measures such as frequent hand washing, maintaining a safe distance and reducing social contact. They are the ones that you will find more easily for sale in any establishment or online business that has masks in general, as well as in pharmacies.
This type of mask is made up of several layers of textile material and can be single-use or reusable. In the latter case, the manufacturer will indicate the maximum number of washes, although 100% efficiency is not guaranteed after many of them. The recommendation of the institutions is not to use this type of mask for more than 4 hours in a row.
What are surgical masks like?
We basically find them in clinical environments, but currently they are recommended for sick , infected or suspected people. The purpose of their use is to prevent the spread of infectious agents and they are designed to filter the air, while preventing the spread of viruses when speaking, coughing or sneezing.
It is not recommended to use them for more than 4 hours in a row, although their durability may depend on each manufacturer. Of course, as soon as you notice it dirty or wet, you should change it. You will find them for sale packaged in any establishment, online store or pharmacy.
What are the PPE masks
Personal Protection Equipment, known as PPE, is designed for use by people who are in regular contact with the virus, such as health professionals and caregivers, as well as for people at risk , since its objective is to create a barrier between the risk potential and the person who uses it. The purpose of PPE is to filter inhaled and exhaled air to prevent the possible entry and exit of polluting particles. Depending on the efficiency of their filter, they are divided into three types: FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3.
As with the other masks, it is recommended not to use the PPE for more than 4 hours at a time. In the event that it becomes wet or deteriorates, it must be replaced immediately with another mask. PPEs are sold in pharmacies and in specialized establishments and online stores.
What to look for on the label
Now that you know the different types of masks, their durability and their possible points of sale, you must take into account another important aspect when buying masks: their labeling.
In addition, it is recommended to look at the label to see if the masks are reusable or not, if the bacterial filtration efficiency is equal to or greater than 90% or 95%, and if the breathability is less than 60 Pa/CM2. The basic data that you will find on the labeling of hygienic masks are:
- Product name: hygienic mask.
- Size (adult / children).
- Duration (reusable / non-reusable).
- Instructions (placement and use).
- Composition of the material (fabric or other textile material).
- Maintenance (how to wash it and recommended number of washes, if it is reusable).
In the case of surgical masks, you must check the CE mark on the label, which ensures that the mask complies with the legislation, in addition to the reference that indicates its quality standard and the type of mask, if it is Type I. or Type II.
As for PPE, in addition to the CE mark, the NR mark for non-reusable or R for reusable ones and, lastly, the type of PPE. mask (FFP1, FFP2, FFP3) and also the type of filter, which can be P1, P2, P3.