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How many types of face masks are there and what is the appropriate use?

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Air shipments are the most efficient if you need your cargo or documents to arrive quickly and securely. mask are a medical product that, together with other protection elements and hygiene measures, They allow us to avoid exposing ourselves and protect our environment from contamination with pathogens. COVID 19 infection is transmitted by droplets. These are produced by the patient when coughing or sneezing, which can travel around one meter.

» ProSalud

Carlos Cruz-Salazar, intensive care nurse and professor at CEU USP, explains that filtration efficiency depends on the medical product we have at our disposal. The different types of masks prevent our environment from being infected and/or protect ourselves. Therefore, it is important to understand what type of scenario we are going to find ourselves in.


There are multiple protective masks on the market to deal with all types of gases and particles. But in the healthcare field we work with two fundamental types: surgical or surgeon masks and highly effective masks. The difference between both products is the filtration and direction of air flow.

Surgical masks are what we should all use to prevent the spread of the pandemic in situations where we have contact with other people who are not infected. High-risk masks are indicated for all those who are in contact with COVID-19 positive people.Surgical maskThe surgical mask does not filter the inhaled air, therefore it does not protect us effectively. Its fundamental objective is to prevent transmission. In this fight we are all responsible for protecting and stopping the spread of the virus. It is important to use a surgical mask in everyday situations in which we are not absolutely certain that we are immunized against the coronavirus.

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High risk or high effectiveness mask

Hen/Stag Filtering masks are considered PPE. A PPE is the Personal Protective Equipment, a device that is worn with the aim of protecting against risks that may threaten the health of the healthcare worker, in this case exposure to the coronavirus. The number of FFP is greater the greater its filtering capacity, which can range from 70 to 98%.

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Hen/Stag FFP (Filter FacePiece) high-efficiency filter masks They have different categories depending on the percentage of particles they are capable of retaining. So we have FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3. El Ministry of Health recommends In the care of patients with coronavirus, a mask with a minimum filtration efficiency equivalent to FFP2 and FFP3 in case aerosols are generated.

Aerosols are small particles that travel through the air at distances greater than one meter and can be produced, for example, in hospitals. However, this type of airborne transmission has less impact if the patient and the personnel in contact are protected with appropriate measures.

Why don't COVID19 patients wear a mask with a valve?

Si The infected patient uses an FFP3 mask with a valve when inhaling it filters the air from the outside but when exhaling it expels air contaminated with pathogens. In the case of patients, facial protection must have the ability to retain the air we expel. Therefore, the surgical mask is effective for these situations.

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Should all respiratory patients wear a mask?

Although the piece must ensure proper ventilation of the user Not all patients should use it. Depending on the type of pathology that exists, the respiratory patient may have contraindicated the use of a protective mask. That's why, Any particular doubt should always be resolved by a doctor.

Can I make my own surgical mask?

Given the difficulty of acquiring an approved protective mask, the general public can choose to make their own homemade versions. To be effective against the coronavirus We must follow the recommended guidelines for its preparation and when its use is indicated. These measures do not protect the user who wears them but are very useful in slowing the spread of the virus by helping asymptomatic people by helping the virus not be transmitted to other people.

What is PPE?

A PPE It is Personal Protective Equipment. It is a device or means that a person is going to carry or have at their disposal, with the objective of protecting you against one or more risks that may threaten your health and safety. For example, gloves, mask, gown...

Are there other transmission routes?

In addition to droplet transmission transmission can occur by contact. This occurs directly when we have contact with a patient or indirectly when we are exposed to contaminated elements, such as objects, food or other elements previously in contact with the microorganism.

The third transmission route is aerial. This is produced by droplets smaller than 5 microns, which contain pathogens and can remain in the air for long periods of time and be transmitted over distances greater than one meter. In this case, exposed people must use high-risk masks.

We must not forget that this is a prevention measure and that we will always need to continue maintaining correct hand hygiene for these guidelines to be effective. As well as not touching your face, placing sanitary products (masks, gloves, gowns) in the appropriate way and carrying out correct disinfection and cleaning of the elements that could be exposed.

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Jorge Camargo
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