As wearing face masks has become the norm in recent months, there’s no surprise that a lot of questions have arisen surrounding the topic. Within this guide, we will be answering popular questions about face masks, helping to debunk the myths and highlight their importance.

What are the different types of face masks?

There are several different types of face masks, all as to which have the same purpose of covering your nose and mouth to stop the spread of bacteria. The most common masks used during the coronavirus outbreak are surgical masks and cotton masks. Surgical masks are usually blue and made out of thin material - they are used in hospitals all year round. These types of masks are disposable and can only be used once.

The second type of face masks is cotton masks. These are the most practical for daily tasks as they can be washed and reused, saving you lots of money in the process. The great thing about cotton masks is that they also come in a variety of fun colours and patterns.

Although surgical and cotton masks are the most popularly used by the public, some people may choose to wear N95 respirators. These tend to be disposable like surgical masks and used amongst people with allergies. They have a special filter that blocks out up to 95% of even the smallest of particles.

Full-length face shields are another form of face mask, typically used by hairdressers and waiters. These shields are more comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Your face is protected by a plastic shield.

Are cloth face masks as effective as surgical ones?

Providing that you wear the masks properly and wash/dispose of them as instructed, both do an effective job of protecting those around you. Please bear in mind that cloth masks are more practical as they can be reused once washed.

Can surgical masks be reused?

No - surgical masks cannot be reused. You must throw them away after one use, ensuring that you thoroughly wash your hands after handling them. Do not try to wash surgical masks as this will damage them.

How long can you wear a disposable mask for?

Disposable masks should be thrown away after one wear. This means that if you take the mask off after a quick trip to the shops, it must be disposed of straight away. Nurses are advised to wear the same mask for around 3 hours, but if they take it off to eat or drink, it must be replaced.

What's the best way to wear a face mask?

Follow the steps below to ensure you wear your face mask safely and effectively.

1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.

2. Hold the mask up to your face, ensuring that it is the right way round. The top of the mask will usually have a wired or contoured area for the nose. The front of the mask is slightly coloured - do not put this side against your face.

3. Hold onto the ear loops and pull them gently over your ears. As you do this, the mask will naturally fit to your face. Adjust (with clean hands) if needed to ensure it covers your nose and mouth.

4. If your face mask has ear loops with ties, tighten the knots until the face mask fits securely on your face. It needs to be tight enough to ensure the mask doesn’t slip but lose enough to ensure you can still breathe.

Are masks only effective if everyone wears one in public?

The most effective way to reduce the transmission of the virus is by having everyone wearing masks in public. The droplets you generate will stay inside your mask and the droplets everyone else generates won’t be able to reach your face. Just make sure that you touch as little objects as possible and wash your hands at every possible opportunity.

Do masks protect my health or just the health of those around me?

The whole point of wearing face masks during a pandemic is to protect those around you. However, masks do an effective job of protecting your health, too. Masks trap the droplets generated from coughing, talking, sneezing, etc., ensuring that they don’t reach other people or contaminate surfaces. Coming into contact with the droplets of an infected person results in catching coronavirus, which is why it is so important to do everything you can to prevent this transmission.

I'm good at social distancing - do I still need to wear a mask?

Yes - you still need to wear a mask, even if you are good at social distancing. Unfortunately, you cannot control the behaviour of others, meaning coming into contact with an infected person or touching an object they’ve been near could be all it takes to catch coronavirus. Not only this, but wearing a mask protects those around you; some coronavirus carriers don’t show symptoms - this is when it becomes dangerous for those who are in more vulnerable categories.

How do you sterilize a face mask?

If you wear a surgical mask, it must be disposed of after one use. Reusable masks, however, can be washed after use and reused again once clean. Sterilizing your face mask can be done in two ways - either pop it in the washing machine with detergent on a high heat setting or wash it thoroughly with soap and hot water. If the mask has holes or is showing signs of wear and tear, throw it away immediately.

Where can I buy surgical face masks?

You can buy surgical face masks in bulk right here at Express Pharmacy.