Surgical Face Masks vs. Respirator Masks

Surgical Face Masks vs. Respirator Masks


To spare ourselves from an infectious disease it is necessary to get protected by something that resists the infections from us, and for this purpose, many people prefer Surgical Face Masks and some Respirator Masks for keeping themselves safe & healthy. Generally in hospitals use of the masks is of two ways, for the protection of health workers as well as for patients in this way viral infections cannot be spread. Use of face masks is no more restricted to hospitals or patients, as the ongoing pandemic has made everyone compelled to wear a mask in daily routine.

This deadly virus has caused increased use of masks globally which has also led to insufficiency in the market to such an extent that there was time when no mask were available for actual needy patient. So it’s our responsibility to not create panic situation & deal it with patience. People have started reserving which caused drastically sudden shortage of all necessary items actually needed by patient.

Surgical mask and respirators, these two masks are generally used by the patients in prevention of infectious diseases. Surgical masks are the piece of cloth that prevent the micro bacteria from spreading as when person sneeze or cough bacteria restrict to the mask and save others from getting infection.

When we talk about the respirator, there are two types of respirator, N95 protects from 95% of bacteria and pathogens and N99 protects from 99% of bacteria and pathogens. The best type of mask for the public as per guideline of CDC is a surgical face mask for proper covering of face from nose bridge to chin tightly to prevent the spread of a virus or getting an infection from surrounding. The most appropriate way of preventing illness is to keep away from the source of infection by following simple precautionary measures such as hand sanitizing/washing & maintaining social distancing.

Surgical Face Mask vs N95 Respirator

What Are Surgical Face Masks?

  • Surgical mask are certified and tested by U.S Food and Drug Administration.
  • The most important motive of surgical mask is that it intends to safe the surrounding from the spread of diseases as well as it does not cause any respiratory or breathing problem.
  • Surgical masks are being made of different layering or thickness according to type oof situation or type of person for being synthesized. This assembly of different layers of material ensures well protection from germs & microbes.
  • It does not allow the large droplets that contain bacteria and viruses to escape from the wearer’s mouth as it is fluid resistant but can’t keep safe from small airborne droplets.
  • This mask help to prevent spread of salivary secretions & respiratory secretions, keep it to splash in environment.
  • It does not fit on the persons face, as it is very loose fitting. Its edges do not provide the seal around the nose and mouth provides the physical barrier to the face.
  • Although it protects from microorganisms to enter in body but to some extent it does not provide the desire protection to the person from the small respiratory airborne particles that is why mostly people don’t consider it for and use other mask i.e. use respirators.
  • They are disposable and should be properly discarded after using it for whole for normal people & after every single use for patients or Health care providers.
  • Each patient need to be use his own mask & sharing of mask to other person is completely prohibited.

What Are Respirator Masks?

  • N95 respirator is certified by National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
  • It is designed as to acquire such feature which would completely seal the face opening & nose from keeping airborne droplets to enter in body.
  • This assures complete protection even if an individual wearing it is surrounded by infected patients.
  • The surgical face masks protect from large droplets while N95 Respirator Masks decrease the individual exposure from small droplets containing germs & microbes.
  • However, this mask cannot be used by patients with cardiac diseases, respiratory or any blood problem without the consultation of health worker otherwise it would lead to further worsen the condition.
  • A respirator is inconvenient to use that is why it is not recommended to people it can cause difficulty in breathing. It is only recommended to general people when they thoroughly need it.
  • Ideally, it should be discarded after every patient especially while doing aerosol-generating procedures. It also not be used when become damaged or when it no more give the facial seal, or when become contaminated by blood and nasal secretion from the patient.

What is better, Surgical Face Masks or Respirator Masks?

After brief description of both the type of mask, we came to know the basic difference and condition which implies the correct use of mask. The user needs to know when he should use which type of mask otherwise misuse of mask might pose problems to individual lifestyle. Both masks have pros & cons so it’s very important correct one in right situation to be used.

Surgical Face Masks Pros & Cons

Surgical Face Mask
Convenient to useNot as much protectant as respirators.
Easily availableImproper disposal will lead to cause dpread of disease.
Economically reasonable pricePeople wearing mask think its enough for the protection, & do not maintain social distancing & proper hand hygiene protocols.
Protects from microbes & infection 
This can be worn even without symptoms because onset of symptoms require 7-8 days to appear. 

Respirator Masks Pros & Cons

Provide efficient protection from bacteria & virus.If its use is not prioritized by health care provider, this will cause shortage to people actually in need.
Helped to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 effectively.It continuous long use can leave mark to face which will cause psychological disturbance to patient or health care provider.
Most frequently used by health care providers.If not proper discarded can facilitate the spread of infection
 Respirators are not well tolerated by some people, may cause problem in breathing.
 People with already respiratory problems should not wear it without recommendation of health care proider.

Healthy persons are advised to use simple surgical mask when going out or doing any activity, interacting with people, doing office job. This type is more comfortable will not pose any serious effect to individuals health & protects from getting infected from splashing droplets of surrounding people. They are used by health care providers during examining to patients if patient is not infected to any serious viral or bacterial infection. In such case, use of N95 respirator would be more appropriate to use.

According to CDC, respirators are advised to use in health care settings. They are designed to achieve facial fit & protection from airborne particles by filtering. Specifically, this respiratory protective device is used by health care professional during procedures to protect both patient & health care provider from transferring organisms & particulate matter. They are not as comfortable as surgical mask, also leaving marks around nose & cheek if wearing for longer time period.

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  • Food & Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Center for Disease Prevention & Control (CDC)
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