Face masks have become essential accessories in the effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With so many types of masks, it can be confusing to know which ones are best.
You should choose a face mask that you don’t mind putting on every day. Here’s your guide to finding the right one for you.
What are the different types of masks?
Here are the primary types of masks or face coverings:
- Cloth mask – this protects others from germs breathed out by the person wearing it.
- Procedure mask – this protects the person wearing the mask from germs in the air.
- Surgical mask – this protects the person wearing the mask from exposure to germs found in droplets in the air.
- KN95 masks or respirator – this mask provides the greatest level of protection to the person wearing the mask.
What kind of mask should I wear?
It depends. If you are healthy and don’t have underlying conditions, you can wear a mask to reduce others’ exposure to germs you might breathe out. If you care for someone who has or who might have COVID-19, you will want to wear a mask that offers greater protection.
Pick a Mask That Has a High Ply Number
Before you decide on buying the mask, make sure it’s made with multiple layers of fabric. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you opt for a mask with a multi-ply structure.
Choose from the following ply types:
2-Ply: A 2-ply mask is safe to use when at the grocery store, a restaurant, or any other public place. It’s not really strong enough for serious respiratory issues, which is why it’s not often used at hospitals or healthcare facilities.
3-Ply: You will usually see people wearing 3-ply masks. This is because they’re made from water-repellent layers and are comfortable to wear and breathe into throughout the day.
4-Ply: For the most part, 4-ply masks are fitted with a carbon filter on the inside. They’re totally lint-free and water-resistant, which helps when it comes to a nice, clean fit.
5-Ply: KN95 masks are usually made with 5 layers of fabric. They filter out more than 95% of particles, which includes germ-carrying spittle and other irritants like pollen and dust.
Wearing a face mask is not a substitute for handwashing
While wearing a face mask is an important part of minimizing the spread of COVID-19, we still need to prioritize good hand hygiene. Regular and frequent handwashing with warm, soapy water is the best way to protect yourselves and others from any kind of viral infection. Aim to frequently wash your hands for 20 seconds at a time or use a hand sanitizer dispenser with at least 60 percent alcohol.
The Bottom Line
If the COVID-19 pandemic showed us anything, it’s that you can never be too prepared. Make sure you have a face mask for now and into the future. Choose one you don’t mind wearing, and before long, you’ll get used to this new accessory.