What are N95 masks and how do you use them?

20th April 2020

Government officials across the world are calling for the help of manufacturers in creating more masks including N95 face masks. The shortage in supply was brought on by the coronavirus outbreak, which triggered an increase in demand from healthcare workers on the frontlines, as well as the general public who would also like to wear these protective masks.

The requests for disinfectant sprays, disposable gloves, and surgical masks continue to rise. This is in addition to the growing demand for N95 respirators. These masks are made to protect health care workers like nurses and doctors who are on the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19. The Center for Disease Control has also determined that masks are also helpful for the public to wear in places where they may come in contact with others who are infected.

However, as more knowledge about the virus has come to light, it became apparent that asymptomatic people could be spreading the virus. Up to 25% of people with COVID-19 may not show symptoms, the CDC found. Moreover, a new small study found that COVID-19 may be most infectious when symptoms are mildest, meaning that people may be spreading the virus before realizing they have it.

What is an N95 respirator? Here are a few things you need to know.

What are N95 masks?

An N95 face mask is personal protective equipment or PPE. The 95 on the name of the mask means it can block at least 95% of tiny particles, about 0.3 microns. This respirator is considered as higher-tech items that filter more and offer more protection to its wearers compared to the basic surgical masks and cloth face masks.

Who needs N95 masks the most?

Health care workers need this respirator the most, but the supply has run short because of the decreased supply, high demand, not to mention, hoarding by some groups of people. Manufacturers have been called out to produce more while the public has been urged not to use N95 face masks so health workers will have more to use.

Here at UK Meds, we have a supply of face masks which should remain adequate to meet the demand of our customers.

The number of people around the world who have tested positive for COVID-19 has skyrocketed since the outbreak in China and that means the number of death has increased significantly as well. Health agencies have recommended the use of face masks while maintaining proper hygiene and social distancing, especially when in a public setting. Face masks are also helpful for the general public in preventing the spread of the Coronavirus.

The proper way of using N95 face masks

The use of N95 face masks is an important method for protecting health care workers who are on the front lines and fighting against the novel coronavirus. If used correctly, this type of mask will filter out airborne particles. That goes without saying that without proper training, this respirator won’t be as effective as it’s intended to be. The biggest potential failure of a protective mask working comes from the fact that people have a tendency to want to touch their faces more often when wearing a mask. This may lead an untrained mask-wearer to believe they are getting a good level of protection from the Coronavirus when they are not. Remember to not touch your face while wearing a face mask, and to use a hand sanitiser prior to putting a mask on.

How to wear an N95 mask

A healthcare worker receives training on how to wear face masks properly. It might seem intuitive, that you should be able to easily figure it out on your own. There are a few things to keep in mind, however, so that your use of N95 masks actually provides the protection you expect.

Do not touch your face

Make sure your hands have been washed with soap and water before you put the mask on. If soap and water are not convenient, use a hand sanitiser. After the mask has been placed over your head, do not repeatedly touch your face. It might be tempting to adjust how it fits after a few minutes or to itch a scratch. If you do need to adjust the fit or scratch an itch, you should repeat cleaning or sanitising your hands immediately prior to doing so.

Fitting the mask

Is your mask fitting properly? If so, air should not rush in through the sides of the mask. Keep in mind, this is for N95 masks, which are tasked with filtering 95% of small particles in the air. If you are wearing a surgical masks, they may not fit as snug and some air may enter from the sides. Any type of mask will be helpful, some more than others. If you have no mask, the CDC recommends that you wear cloth over your face, such as a scarf or handkerchief. The type of mask you wear should be in proportion to the potential risk of infection in your area.

Shortage of N95 face masks

Here at UK Meds, we have an adequate supply of masks to serve our customers. Other countries in the world are experiencing shortages of N95 masks. If you are unable to source N95 (FFP2) or higher quality FFP3 masks, or if you're waiting for your delivery to arrive but still need to go outdoors, wearing a makeshift cloth face covering will be better than not wearing anything.