How Good Are Homemade Face Masks? | Flushields – FluShields

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Issues With DIY Masks?

a woman sewing cloth face mask
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

As the global spread of COVID-19 accelerates, this kind of do-it-yourself approach to the lack of personal protective equipment ( PPE) is increasingly popular, with medical experts, businesses, and people creating their own face masks, respirators, and ventilators.

But are the home-made face masks safe? So far, the evidence is sparse and inconsistent, and while a few solutions are encouraging, there is some fear that stopgap steps could make things worse. Research published in The Lancet on April 2 showed that coronavirus could survive on fabric for at least one day and surgical masks for up to seven days.

And on 7 April, the World Health Organization said that there is currently no evidence that wearing masks of any type will keep healthy people in their populations from developing respiratory infections, like COVID-19.

Good news: You can actually protect yourself as much as possible by wearing an N95 respirator maskGet your N95 respirator masks for the whole family today.

"A homemade mask would not be very protective and may paradoxically increase the risk of infection if people touch their face and have a false sense of security" - Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

According to the CDC the fabric medical mask shown in many DIY instructional guides; isn't even effective and safe. 

Without a proper fit and durability of the materials used in your DIY masks, you might be much prone to air pollution, airborne particles, and viruses around you. Why would you take a risk of using cheap home-made masks if you can afford to buy a safer mask or respirator that can help you reduce the risks of having unwanted diseases?

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The dangers of using DIY or home-made masks are greatly horrifying. Imagine using plastic, cardboard, used-bottled water, or even unsafe fabric cloths as your covering and protection against harmful bacteria and viruses around you. Do you think these can help you fight the airborne particles in the air? No. Not at all, these will just cause irritation and might probably bring you more discomfort.

Here are the common problems you can meet in using DIY face mask:

  1. They are not designed to block the spread of COVID-19

Experts, however, advise that although homemade alternatives which build a loose-fitting barrier that may minimize the spread of certain germs, they are not built to prevent the spread of COVID-19,  the pandemic that has engulfed the globe. According to Captain Michael Doyle, U.S. Army New York National Guard Medical Assistant and commanding officer at the coronavirus research site in New Rochelle, New York, the only mask that the CDC finds safe from having coronavirus, the only way to potentially keep you from inhaling it, is the N95 mask.

  1. The materials used are problematic

The complications are largely caused by the material used. SARS-CoV-2 is predominantly transmitted via droplet infection. The greater the diameter of the material fibers in the protective mask, the weaker it protects. This is because the diameter of the fibers determines the size of the pore, because the bigger it is, the easier it is for the droplets to enter the surface. Conversely, this means the fine fiber material will provide better protection. It is also essential just how hydrophobic – i.e. water-repellent – it is used. Materials that are more hydrophobic allow fewer water droplets to slip through, for example, when talking or coughing. Cotton is therefore less appropriate. DIY masks that are made of pockets in which the filter material is inserted are also problematic. If these are not properly attached to the edge and only cover the mouth and nose, the wearer virtually breathes past the filter.

  1. Cause Skin Irritation

Since the DIY or home-made face masks are not properly sanitized or disinfected in a laboratory, the materials used in making this mask might cause irritation to sensitive skin. Especially, when not washed and worn properly, it might not be so effective in blocking the germs from entering your mouth, and nose. In the worst-case scenario, this might also lead to skin irritation such as rashes, acne, and even some red spots in the skin due to unclean, rough, or inappropriate materials used. 

But fortunately, if the skin irritation occurs while wearing your DIY masks, you might probably treat it yourself. Practice the gentle regimen of skincare. Skin treatment plays a critical role in the healing of the face. If you have a skin issue with wearing a mask, adopt this everyday routine:

Treat your face. How you handle your skin depends on your skin conditions. Here's what dermatologists are recommending:

Acne: Wash your face after wearing a mask, make sure to use a non-comedogenic moisturizer after cleaning. If your face mask triggers fresh acne or makes your acne worse, speak to a board-certified dermatologist on the right way to handle your skin condition.

Raw, irritated skin: Apply petroleum jelly to swollen areas on your face before bedtime. This product is intended to protect the skin so that it can regenerate.

Sore skin behind the ears: You've got a few choices. So you should change the kind of mask you're wearing, find masks with various styles of ties and ear loops. Wear a new form of mask every day.

If you choose to wear the same sort of mask every day, consider wearing a ball cap or headband that comes with buttons so that you can tie your ear loops around the buttons.

Avoid the use of skincare ingredients and drugs that can irritate the skin. When the skin is healed, dermatologists suggest that you avoid using:

  • Acne treatments that contain salicylic acid
  • Anti-aging products
  • At-home light devices
  • Peels or scrubs

 

  1. Offers not enough protection

One research in 2015 showed that fabric masks only blocked 3 percent of the particles, compared to medical masks (which protected 56 percent of the particles) and N95s (protective against 99.9 percent of the particles, the study found). Health staff wearing fabric masks were slightly more likely to be afflicted with the flu-like disease. Dr. You-Lo Hsieh, a professor at the University of California, Davis, studying fiber engineering and polymer chemistry, has observed that viral particles are too small to be collected by most household clothes. Towels and sweatshirts have been shown to absorb a slightly higher percentage of particles than commercially produced fabric masks. However, both of these were slightly less protective than the N95 mask. Researchers were unable to determine whether certain fabrics, such as cotton, polyester, or blending, were generally more protective.

  1. Home-made fabrics can absorb viral particles that might be dangerous for the wearers   

One of the main distinctions between DIY masks and those is their cloth. Many surgical masks, for example, are made with a non-woven sheet of material that can be the barrier to capturing and trapping virus particles. Homemade masks can act like virus-catchers, absorb coronavirus droplets, and bring them dangerously close to the nose and mouth of the wearer. The removal of a mask can also be dangerous, since you may contact any of the virus particles on the exterior of the mask with your hands or fingertips, and then pass them to your face.

  1. DIY face masks offer a false sense of security

The key concern, articulated in the 2010 NIOSH report, is that homemade masks may provide a false sense of protection. Hand washing, disinfection, and minimizing contact with others are also known to be the most effective methods to deter the transmission of disease. A 2009 meta-analysis showed that masks could be safe, but only if people wear them regularly and correctly — and were most secure in conjunction with proper handwashing. As guidance on mask-wearing changes, experts are keen to note that they can not be used as a substitution for staying at home, washing your hands, and even following social distance measures.

The type of mask that is needed to reduce exposure from airborne particles is the N95 respirator. It can also help the wearer to protect themselves from liquid contaminating the face. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also regulate N95 respirators. One concern is that they should be discarded after a single-use. But some people are looking to find ways to disinfect and reuse their respirators.

So, how can the design of your DIY face mask be improved?

Melt-blown materials are more suitable: they are hydrophobic and have a very small fiber diameter. They are also found in commercially available tablecloths or vacuum cleaner bags as a barrier layer. In the case of a vacuum cleaner bag, the fibers often carry an electrical charge (electret) because they are intended as FFP-like particle filters. This significantly increases the performance of the filter without increasing the respiratory resistance. Some manufacturers of vacuum cleaner bags clearly label their products as 'three-layer electret micro filter bags.' Of course, it is also extremely important that masks are worn relatively close to the face and that the effective filtering area is as large as possible in order to keep the respiratory resistance as low as possible. A pretty rough guide for manufacturers and retailers switching production: in the particular case of filter material particularly suitable for FFP2, the filtering area should be more than 150 squared cm.

Good news: You can actually protect yourself as much as possible by wearing an N95 respirator maskGet your N95 respirator masks for the whole family today.

Disclaimer: Please note that we can only pass on general information and cannot make any guarantees or be liable for any consequences of your decision making or behavior. Use good common sense and ask your healthcare provider or physician for advice.

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Get your N95 respirator masks for the whole family today.

Please note that we can only pass on general information and cannot make any guarantees or be liable for any consequences of your decision making or behavior. Use good common sense and ask your health care provider or physician for advice.

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