The use of masks against the coronavirus is widely recommended by institutions such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health of Brazil. There are several models available on the market and, while the demand for the equipment grows, states and municipalities are decreeing mandatory use in public places.
In this text, we’ll cover the following topics.
- Who should wear a protective mask?
- Testing the most effective materials
- Homemade masks: simple, reusable and DIY
- How to take care of your mask
1. Who should wear a protective mask??
In this scenario, it is necessary to understand good practices and risk factors in the use of protective masks, especially homemade ones. This is because the WHO recommends the use of professional ones only for some groups, such as:
– Health professionals;
– patients infected with the new coronavirus;
– family members taking care of people diagnosed with the disease.
With that, we will understand what it means to you.
Why not me?
The beginning of the pandemic generated an unprecedented demand for coronavirus masks, and the WHO recommendation is intended to ensure that the most effective equipment reaches the hands of those who need it most. But that does not mean that those who do not work in the health field are unprotected.
The same health agencies also point to homemade masks as an efficient and viable option for the majority of the population. In an article published by the New York Times, experts say that several common materials are effective in protecting individuals not infected with the virus.
Thus, we see that the use of homemade masks is an important tool both in individual protection and in supporting the front line of fighting the virus – so that these professionals have access to the most efficient equipment.
The mask helps, but it is not the solution
AFirst of all it is necessary to make it clear that masks are essential items only when it is absolutely necessary to leave the house. With everything we know about the coronavirus, the prevention methods described below should be adopted:
– avoid crowds and leave the house as little as possible;
– stay at least 2 meters from other people when in public;
– clean your hands frequently with water and soap or 70% alcohol;
– clean frequently used surfaces and objects.
2. Testing the most effective materials
Experts have been researching the best materials for protective masks since the time of Influenza (H1N1 pandemic). Therefore, it is necessary to seek the most current studies on the subject, with Covid-19 in focus.
This is the case of a recent study, carried out by scientists at the Federal University of Uberlândia. The survey tested 15 types of masks and rated them for their effectiveness in protecting against the virus. The results you can see below:
The study is based on the ability to retain aerosol particles that carry the coronavirus, such as contaminated saliva droplets. It is believed that by blocking the transmission vehicle, it is possible to protect the user.
Right behind the professional models, cotton masks showed very high efficiency when made in three layers, closely followed by two layer masks.
It should be noted that, despite the good result, the researchers did not recommend the use of paper filters against Covid-19. This is due to the lower seal and a rapid humidification of the mask, which is detrimental to its performance.
Also read: Flu vaccine: who should take it?
3. Homemade masks: simple, reusable and DIY
Now that we know how the various materials behave in the face of the coronavirus, it’s time to talk about using homemade masks and how you can get one.
The pandemic presented a great opportunity for the manufacture of protective equipment and, currently, it is possible to find fabric masks with varied prices and compositions. Thus, one should evaluate the available models and their composition.
In terms of effectiveness, cotton in three layers creates one of the safest masks against the coronavirus, making it, at the moment, a good option to be used.
This model can be easily replicated in homemade masks, adding layers with a simple fold of the fabric. If you prefer, there are DIY tutorials (Do It Yourself) for those who want to learn how to make their own mask against the coronavirus. Check out information and guidelines in this href=”https://saude.abril.com.br/medicina/como-fazer-mascara-caseira/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>article from “Saúde” magazine.
In the New York Times article, we found some tips from American doctor Scott Segal. He studied several mask variations and gives a simple recommendation on whether the material examined is of good quality:
“Hold it against a strong light. If light passes easily through the fibers of the fabric, or if you can see the fibers against the light, the material is not a good choice. If the fabric has a denser loom or is made of a thicker material, which does not allow light to pass through it, this is the material you want to use.”
The study carried out by researchers in the United States also reinforces that the analyzed tissues can be more effective when folded several times. That’s why it’s so important that your mask has several layers of protection.
4. How to take care of your mask
After you buy or make a homemade mask, it’s time to learn how to use it. As the masks retain contaminating particles, all must be handled with care, properly sanitized. Follow this small guide of good practices detailed below.
- The mask should never be shared. Make sure that each family member has at least two.
- Before any procedure with the mask, wash your hands thoroughly.
- Never leave home without a mask. Preferably, always carry two and take a plastic bag to keep the dirty mask.
- The fabric mask has a maximum usage time of 3 hours and must be changed after this period, due to the moisture produced by breathing.
- Make sure that the mask is sealing the face correctly, without openings. The use of bandages and even glasses can help in fixing the mask in the nose area.
- When you get home, follow this order: remove your shoes, wash your hands thoroughly and only then remove the mask.
- Remove the mask by the string. Avoid touching the front as much as possible: it may be contaminated.
- Sanitize the mask with a solution of 2 tablespoons of bleach to 1 liter of water. Soak it in the mixture for 30 minutes and then wash.
- Wash with soap and water, rinsing with running water.
- Let it dry and then iron it with a hot iron.
- Masks must be stored in plastic bags before the next use.
- Masks must be stored in plastic bags before the next use.
- If you notice any defects on the fabric, discard it.
As we have seen, fabric masks are great tools for your protection, but remember: the most effective way to stay safe is by respecting the guidelines of isolation and social distance. So stay safe and wash your hands thoroughly. Find out more through trusted channels and count on Omint to protect you and your family. Medical plan clients have access to Dr. Omint Digital, a telemedicine service that advises on symptoms by videoconference or telephone.