What Kind of Masks Work for the Pandemic? | Muse Health

What Kind of Masks Work for the Pandemic?
| Muse Health

  Germs and Protection       Safety and Wellness  

As the COVID-19 Delta variant gains traction throughout the U.S., many counties and state governors are making the decision to reinstate mask mandates in public spaces—even for vaccinated people. For those not so eager to turn back to the face coverings, other authorities are instead strongly recommending mask-wearing within indoor public spaces alongside social distancing requirements. But with the return of these coronavirus disease precautions comes the need for clarity: which masks work for the pandemic and public health, and which masks are effective at protecting from the spread of COVID-19 despite vaccination? Keep reading to learn which masks make the cut!

The N95 Mask

Perhaps the most effective example of personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent not just the coronavirus, but also myriads of other airborne diseases, is the N95. These masks meet the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) standards for air filtration, as they’re capable of filtering over 95% of airborne particles—hence the 95 number. Additionally, they reach a close fit around the nose and mouth thanks to tough and flexible polypropylene fiber material and straps which reach around the head, meaning there are virtually no gaps for unwanted contagions to sneak inside. Anything larger than 0.3 microns is going to have a difficult time getting through, making the N95 the ideal choice for keeping COVID-19 and other infectious diseases from spreading. Some N95s even feature exhalation valves to make breathing easier.

However, due to the strength of N95 respirators, shortages are not uncommon, and it might be difficult to get your hands on one for yourself. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that N95s are only necessary for healthcare professionals, and other forms of face coverings should be used by the general public when possible to prevent shortages among health care providers from occurring. The N95s aren’t easily reusable either and costly, so if you’re seeking out a cost-efficient solution, you might want to try a different option.

Surgical Masks

Arguably the most widely used mask in professional healthcare settings, surgical masks are usually easy to find, are lighter on the wallet, come in bulk selections, and are more comfortable when sitting on your face as opposed to other types of masks. Although the ear straps aren’t typically adjustable, the material is flexible enough to have a universal fit. The mask itself is reliable when it comes to blocking contagious particles or droplets from reaching the face, but doesn't offer quite the same protection as the sturdier N95. Face shields can be combined with surgical masks for even more protection.

One of the main drawbacks to surgical masks comes down to the loose fitting. The material of these masks attempts to hug the user’s face snugly, but sometimes gaps or holes along the edges are inevitable, providing a means for contagions and viruses to penetrate the seams. If your surgical mask comes with a nose wire, make sure to press it along the bridge of your nose to create a tight fit. The ear loops can also be tied tighter if necessary, but these precautions don’t exactly make for the comfiest feeling, so take that into consideration.

Surgical masks can be found at many public retailers and grocery stores, but shortages have been known to occur in the past as they’re also frequently utilized by healthcare workers and function as disposable masks rather than being reusable.

The KN95 Mask

In terms of mask options, the KN95 Mask is nearly identical to its N95 counterpart: it filters 95% of air particles and is even made of similar material, making it great for slowing the spread of the virus. So what is the difference between the KN95 and the N95?

Not much aside from the certification, it turns out. While the N95 is fully adherent to the U.S. standards of safety and health, the KN95 complies with a Chinese standard instead. This makes the KN95 a good second choice for a face covering after the N95. Along with the certification aspects, the KN95 usually features ear loops, whereas the N95 opts for headband straps. As a result, the KN95 a little easier to put on and take off while traveling in and out of public settings. Just make sure to double check that your purchased KN95 meets the right requirements where you live!

Cloth Masks

Cloth face coverings have been the unintentional fashion statement since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic! But are they effective at keeping COVID-19 and its new delta variant at bay? Do they actually keep any disease out at all?

Contrary to some opinions, fabric masks and homemade masks do provide general protection against airborne pathogens such as sars-cov-2 and flying particles from sneezes, but the strength is largely determined by how the cloth is designed. The more layers of fabric, the better the protection. These masks are also much easier to come by than the other alternatives and are washable, allowing them to be used many times over. Lots of cloth masks come with adjustable straps too, ensuring more comfort than most other medical mask types.

The cost of using cloth masks boils down to their ability to perform the job. N95s and even surgical masks offer much better protection than cloth material, and studies have demonstrated that infection rates amongst cloth mask wearers are generally higher than those using stronger options. Nevertheless, the CDC recommends cloth masks to be used in community settings where close contact is expected when the other types are not readily available. Physical distancing is still just as valuable as ever, even amongst those who wear masks, are asymptomatic, or have already received the COVID-19 vaccine!

Muse Health Fabric Face Masks

So where does the crossroad between powerful masks, comfortable masks, and affordable masks lie? Muse Health set out to design its own potent product for those seeking the best compromise possible: the Muse Health Fabric Face Mask.

This mask is fashioned out of high-quality material meshed together in a triple layer of protection while sitting soft and flush on the face. Its outer layer consists of 100% polyester fabric while the inner two layers are made of 28-gauge cotton jersey, creating a three-layer antibacterial weave to repel airborne germs, small particles, and respiratory droplets. The combination keeps its fit functional and comfortable, allowing you to return to public places safely and without any irritation on the face. With a sleek design, a price that’s hard to beat, and reusable materials, the Muse Health Fabric Face Mask has you covered—literally!

Browse our shop today and take advantage of our buy one, get 50% off sale to add some hand sanitizer to your mask order!