Since Covid-19’s appearance in our world, numerous steps have been implemented in various nations globally to control the virus and prevent it from spreading.
Various proposals, including lockdowns, have been floated by governments at all levels. Another way widely used to curb the virus is by wearing face masks. However, do 3 ply face masks really help reduce infection rates?
What are 3 ply face masks?
3 ply face masks are made to give three layers of protection against germs, viruses, and big droplets or body fluids while being lightweight and breathable.
They usually have a movable nasal bridge that allows for a closer fit.
Here are some general features of a 3 ply face mask:
- Colour: Usually blue outside, white inside
- Size: 17.5 by 9.5cm
- Packaging: usually comes in a box of 50 pieces
- Material: non-woven fabric, polypropylene
Types of 3 ply face masks
These masks can be grouped under two main types. The first category is disposable 3 ply face masks. They have single usability and have to be disposed of correctly after use.
Polymers such as polypropylene, polyurethane, polyacrylonitrile, polystyrene, polycarbonate, polyethene, or polyester are used to make these masks. Examples of the most common disposable 3 ply face masks available:
- Surgical 3 ply face masks
- N-95 face masks
The second category is reusable 3 ply face masks. These face masks are more environmentally friendly as they can be reused. They also are known as 3 ply cloth face masks.
They come with a pocket that enables users to change their filters after using them. Since these masks are made of fabrics, they are washable. You can wash them by hand or washing machine.
What is the function of 3 ply face masks?
As seen in the figure above, the 3-ply surgical mask is made up of three layers of nonwoven fabric, each with its unique function. The first layer is the waterproof outer layer, usually blue. This helps to resist liquids such as mucosalivary droplets.
The filter in the second layer stops particles or germs larger than a particular size from passing through in either direction. The user’s mucosalivary droplets are trapped in the innermost layer, which is made of absorbent materials.
This layer also absorbs moisture from exhaled air, making you feel more comfortable. These three layers work together to safeguard both the user and the people around them by restricting particle and pathogen penetration in both directions.
3 ply face masks vs. normal face masks
A 3 ply face mask is a surgical or medical mask that is made up of three layers, each having its own set of functions, whereas a normal mask is usually 2 ply. It is a low-cost hygiene face mask composed of the same fabric, polypropylene, or a similar non-woven substance. However, because these hygiene masks lack a filter layer, they are ineffective against smog, viruses, and germs.
Hence, the main difference between a normal face mask and a 3 ply face mask is the function and amount of protection they provide. The 3 ply mask is preferred since it has enough layers to defend against droplets. The 2 ply face mask, on the other hand, is intended for sanitary and hygienic purposes such as in a restaurant environment, primarily for food handling, as well as in a spa setting.
How to use 3 ply face masks?
Here’s how you can use your 3 ply face mask, according to guidelines set by the World Health Organisation (WHO):
- Clean/sanitize your hands before putting on the mask.
- Place the mask gently over your mouth and nose, and tighten it with a knot or the elastic hoop to prevent any gaps between the mask and your face.
- Do remember to avoid touching your mask once you have worn it and to always dispose of your mask if it gets too moist, or contaminated.
- Before removing the mask, make sure your hands are clean. Remove your mask properly by untying it from behind or from the straps, rather than touching the front of the mask.
- Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water after removing your mask.
Is a 3 ply face mask washable?
If your mask is a reusable one, then yes, it is washable. Remember to remove the filter before washing your 3 ply face mask.
Is a 3 ply face mask reusable?
A 3 ply face mask is only reusable if it is made of fabric. Please do not reuse your mask if it’s a surgical, N-95 mask, or disposable one as those are only made for single use.
3 ply face mask and Covid-19
3 ply face masks offer a high filtration capacity, making them the best coronavirus protective face mask. These surgical masks serve as a physical barrier to infectious fluids spread by sick people.
When worn properly, 3 ply face masks can help protect the user from airborne pollutants, allergies, germs, and viruses while also shielding others nearby from the wearer’s coughs and sneezes with up to 95% effectiveness.
3 ply face masks do play an important role in stopping the virus. Since it’s made up of 3 different layers, it offers more protection and assurance compared to other normal masks.
Our masks give you all the protection a disposable 3 ply mask offers, however, it is a much better option as it is environmentally friendly. Get your own face masks from ProXMask today!
The article is a part of our comprehensive series on “Face mask: Preventing the spread of Covid-19”
Yii Change Bong
Medical Officer, Proxmask
Dr Yii Change Bong is an occupational health doctor with demonstrated experience working with the Ministry of Health, Malaysia.
Having worked as a Medical Officer in Hospital Umum Sarawak and Sarawak General Hospital, Kuching for more than 5 years, he holds a strong presence in the fields of occupational health services, medical surveillance, and also in providing medical education.
In 2020 Dr Bong was the COVID-19 taskforce PPE liaison as the person in charge of personal protective equipment for frontline healthcare workers in the hospital during the early stages of the pandemic.