A surgical mask, also known as a medical face mask, is a personal protective equipment worn by health professionals during medical procedures. It prevents airborne transmission of infections between patients and/or treating personnel by blocking the transmission of pathogens (primarily bacteria and viruses) shed in respiratory droplets and aerosols into and from the wearer's mouth and nose.Typically quite impermeable to moisture, the mask act as an additional barrier for the airway and are not usually designed (unless N95-rated) to completely prevent the wearer from inhaling smaller airborne pathogens, but could be still protective by filtering out and trapping most of the droplets that carry them. There is a predominance of evidence that surgical masks protect both the wearer (by filtering the inhaled air) and bystanders (by blocking down forceful exhalations from the wearer that can spread pathogens afar).Surgical masks were originally designed to protect medical personnel from accidentally breathing or swallowing in splashes or sprays of bodily fluids, but the effectiveness of surgical masks against influenza-like infections has not been confirmed by high-quality randomized controlled trials. Commonly seen surgical masks vary greatly by quality and levels of protection. Despite their name, not all surgical masks are appropriate to be used during surgery. Surgical masks may be labeled as surgical, isolation, dental or medical procedure masks. Chinese health officials distinguish between medical (non-surgical) and surgical masks.Surgical masks are made of a nonwoven fabric created using a melt blowing process. They came into use in the 1960s and largely replaced cloth facemasks in developed countries. The dark blue (or green) side of the mask (the fluid-repellant layer) is to be worn outward, with the white (absorbent) layer on the inside. With respect to some infections like influenza surgical masks could be as effective (or ineffective) as respirators, such as N95 or FFP masks; though the latter provide better protection in laboratory experiments due to their material, shape and tight seal.The use of surgical masks during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a subject of debate, as mask shortage is a central issue. Surgical masks are popularly worn by the general public all year round in East Asian countries like China, Japan and South Korea, especially during allergy and flu seasons, to reduce the chance of spreading airborne diseases to others, and to prevent the breathing in of airborne irritants such as pollens or dust particles created by air pollution (though dust masks are more effective against pollution.) Additionally, surgical masks have become a fashion statement, particularly in contemporary East Asian culture bolstered by its popularity in Japanese and Korean pop culture which have a big impact on East Asian youth culture.
Developed for Medical Professionals