Different types of masks offer different levels of protection. So what type of masks suit what requirement? Let’s find out.
Homemade Cloth Masks
While cloth masks offer a certain degree of protection, they do not provide the kind of filtration levels some of its other counterparts provide. These masks should be treated as a bare minimum in the usage of masks. After all, wearing a custom homemade cloth mask is better than not wearing a mask at all. These masks can be made at home using common materials and are hence convenient supply wise.
However, these masks also provide a sense of false security since they offer a low degree of protection and are half as effective as surgical masks.
It is also important to note that cloth masks should be washed every time after usage.
Key features of these masks are being very tight and high on filtration levels. These respirators can filter out 95 percent of very small harmful particles. They come with elastic ear loops and are usually oval in shape. The elastic ear loops are responsible for keeping the mask tight and firm on the face.
Please note that there is no one size fits all in these masks and if the mask does not cover your face properly, you will not receive appropriate protection. Facial hair also weakens the seal of the mask so it is advisable that there is minimal facial hair if maximum protection levels are to be achieved.
These masks are disposable and loose fitted. Surgical masks have been proven to cover the chin, mouth and nose effectively. They are typically used for protection against water droplets, sprays and splashes.
These are generally typical in design and are used on a large scale in the medical field. The ear loops on surgical masks can have an elastic band or a normal cloth band for fitting. Please note that these masks are disposable and are not be shared or reused again.
Mesh masks are usually 3 or 4 layers of masks with a mesh cloth outer layer for added protection. These are an evolved version of the everyday cloth masks and see a higher level of protection due to its feature of having multiple layers in it. Since these are cloth masks, they are reusable and washable upto 20-30 times.
Knock offs of N95 Masks
These masks are often at par or near the level of protection that N95 masks offer. N95 masks offer a 95 percent filtration rate and knock offs tend to have a filtration rate of anywhere between 90 to 98 percent.
All types of masks are generally not one size fits all and hence come in different shapes and sizes. Masks for kids especially are designed to be smaller and have a custom fit for children of different ages.
Face shields are an alternative to face masks and can also be used in combination with masks. These are essentially a plastic covering on the face and cover the whole face instead of just the mouth and nose area. The usage of the combination of face masks and face shields adds an additional level of protection.