When there is a risk of being infected by viruses, it is only wise to make use of face masks. Reusable antiviral masks have become very common these days and there different types on the market.
It is not strange to hear people ask if they can reuse face masks. No, you cannot use every kind of face mask. The only masks you can use are masks that are labeled as “reusable” by the manufacturer.
So which kind of mask should you purchase if you want to use it more than once? How do you care for your reusable masks? We will answer these questions in this post. And if you have any demand for surgical face masks (know more) and N95 respirators, welcome to visit Trendebut.
What is a viral infection?
Before we go ahead with discussing the different types of face masks, let’s discuss viral infections. A viral infection is simply the presence of one or more viruses in an organism. One of the most common causes of respiratory disorders is viruses. Their presence causes symptoms in the upper segment of the respiratory tract.
Viral infections are more experienced during autumn and around early spring. Antibiotics used in curing bacterial conditions are ineffective against viral infection. In fact, when you continue to use antibiotics for viral infections, you are likely to experience side effects.
So how do you treat viral infections? If the infection is minor, sleep or rest, adequate hydration, and treating the symptoms are perfect. You can treat the symptoms using antiviral and over the counter drugs. These drugs help to fortify your immune system and slow down virus multiplication within cells.
Some of the common symptoms of viral infections include:
- general weakness
- joint pains
- muscle pains
- runny nose
- sore throat
- weakening of appetite
When you become aware of the risk of viral infections, it is wise to make use of reusable antiviral masks. These do not offer 100% protection but act as a shield protecting your nasal and oral orifices from contamination.
Who needs an antiviral mask?
According to experts, antiviral masks should not be used as protection against viral infections. The truth is that antiviral masks don’t protect you in this regard. So who should wear an antiviral mask?
The first set of people recommended are sick individuals. These individuals are likely to produce particulates from the noses and mouths when sneezing, coughing, talking, or laughing. Such particulates carry the viruses and could be infectious to others around them. Wearing this mask ensures that these individuals protect people around them from being infected with these droplets.
The second set of people that should use antiviral masks are people who have had contact with index cases. These individuals are likely infected but may not show any symptoms. They must wear masks to protect others from contracting the infection as well.
Finally, health care personnel and people attending to sick patients with suspected viral infections. This is important because they need the shield to protect them from the droplets produced by the patients. Best practice requires these individuals to dispose of the mask immediately they are done with a patient. This should be done before leaving the patient’s ward or room.
Should reusable masks be sterilized?
The regulations by the CDC prescribe that masks should be used just once. Once the mask is soiled or damaged, it should be taken off and disposed of properly. However, certain situations may warrant the need for reusable antiviral masks. A vivid example is when there is a shortage of disposable face masks during a pandemic.
So should masks be sterilized? According to the Central Sterile Services Department, you can sterilize masks and use them again. Of course, not disposable masks, the masks have to be labeled reusable from the start. To sterilized masks, it is important that you prepare them properly beforehand.
Sterilization instructions for reusable masks
Step 1 – Take off the mask by following the instructions laid down by the manufacturer of the mask. Usually, these instructions conform to those stated in the guidebook of the CDC.
Step 2 – All the reusable components of the mask should be properly cleaned and disinfected, then sterilized. These operations should be carried out following the laid down instructions by the manufacturer.
Step 3 – Clean and disinfect the wearing parts of the mask then sterilize them. Follow the instructions of the manufacturer when doing this.
Step 4 – Immediately after the disinfection and sterilization of the mask and its wearing parts, put it away. You should put the mask inside a container previously designed for handling hazardous materials.
Sterilizing disposable face masks
Do you know that you can also sterilize disposable face masks? Only that in this case, you cannot use the masks afterward, they have to be disposed of. This is necessary so that you don’t contaminate the environment or other individuals at risk.
For some individuals, burning the masks is the best. However, burning has adverse effects on the environment so it is not advisable. Before you discard the masks, it is important that you sterilize them. You can follow these instructions to sterilize disposable face masks:
Step 1 – Take off the disposable mask in line with the instructions provided by the manufacturer. It is advised that you wear disposable gloves before taking off the mask.
Step 2 – Place the mask in a sterilization package or sleeve. Now take off the disposable gloves and put them together with the mask.
Step 3 – Pass the package through very high temperatures to sterilize the content.
Step 4 – When sterilization is done, put the package inside a container dedicated to hazardous materials.
Step 5 – Safely dispose of the container.
It is very important to note that you cannot sterilize N95 respirators. The moment you do, they lose their ability to protect the wearer as they should. For these masks, disposal is advised immediately after use.
Now you know that it is possible to sterilize reusable antiviral masks and we have shown you how. Remember that you only need these masks if you are sick or have come in contact with an index case. You will also need one if you offer care to a patient suffering from viral infection.