Medical face masks are recommended for individuals who are sick and are displaying symptoms of viral infections. The CDC also advises that health care personnel wear this protective equipment when caring for such individuals. Face masks help to act as a barrier or filter depending on whether it is a surgical mask (know more) or an N95 respirator. If you have any demand for a surgical mask or N95 respirator, please visit Trendebut.
The question we need to answer is, “can children also use these masks?” If they do, will they be safe from infection, especially COVID-19? We will provide answers to this question and other related issues in this post.
Surgical masks or N95 respirators: which should you choose?
CDC recommends that members of the public should have access to disposable surgical masks, not N95 respirators. This is because the latter requires a bit of training for efficient use. Without this training, the wearer could be more at risk of infection or other challenges.
Surgical masks are barriers ensuring that respiratory droplets from a patient do not touch people around. It also protects medical personnel when they have to care for infected patients. These masks were designed to be physical barriers, not filters.
N95 respirators filter the air of at least 95% of particles. This ensures that the wearer doesn’t inhale such particulates like the coronavirus. There have been arguments that surgical masks are more comfortable for health workers in the clinic than N95 respirators. That’s an argument for another day, the question is can children use any of these medical face masks?
Are face masks effective for children?
The effectiveness of face masks depends on several factors. One such factor is the mask being able to seal all the entry points to the nose and mouth. This means that the top seal has to mold over the nose bridge and the bottom stretch just over the chin. Again, masks become useless once they become soiled or get wet.
When you want to wear a face mask for your child, you should remember the two factors stated above. Firstly, ensuring that your child or toddler keeps the mask on is a herculean task on its own. Second, you have to consider how comfortable they will be and how fitting the mask is.
That being said, imagine your child is crying and uncomfortable. He or she is likely to take off the mask from tantrums. Again, there is a high probability that an uncomfortable child will touch the face more often. Doing this defeats the purpose of the mask as such hands can be transferred to other parts of the body. As you know, this will further put the child at risk of infection.
Face masks for infants and toddlers
Children less than three years old should not be allowed to wear face masks, we will explain why. When you wear a mask, there is an increase in resistance against regular breathing. In addition to this, there is also an increase in carbon dioxide within the small space between the mask and face.
For an adult, this may not even be noticeable but in infants and toddlers, it can result in hypoventilation. The reason for this is that their lungs are not well-developed yet and their carbon dioxide clearance level is still low. High levels of carbon dioxide are dangerous for children within this age grade.
Many of the N95 respirators on the market today, are designed to fit adults. They will also fit children above 12 years old but not younger.
Children between the ages of 7 and 12 can make use of special pediatric N95 face masks. These masks have been tested and it has been discovered that they use the masks for a variety of activities. The special masks do not affect their breathing in any way but only a few brands supply this type of masks.
What about older children?
Yes, a certain category of older children can benefit from using medical face masks. Certain children are susceptible to viral infections and the complications they pose. These include those suffering from heart disease, chronic respiratory issues, neurological conditions, and those that are immunosuppressed.
Any child, that is not a toddler, suffering from any of the above conditions may need to wear face masks. However, they should be monitored closely to ensure their safety and protection from infection or any other underlying risks.
How to protect your children from viral infections
You are probably worried about protecting your child since they cannot use face masks. We know about the natural parent instinct so we have put together this section to help you. According to medical advice, here are a few things you can do to help your child:
- Teach your kids how to wash their hands properly with soap and clean water. Do this using the guidelines prescribed by health agencies. For toddlers and babies, help them wash using the same prescriptions.
- Tutor your kids on good hygiene and etiquette as prescribed by the CDC and WHO. Some of these include sneezing and coughing into the elbows or a tissue paper. If they are using tissue paper, explain how to dispose of it when they are done. Also, tell them to wash their hands immediately after the disposal.
- Explain to them the importance of not touching the faces, especially the nose and mouth.
- Restrain your kids from visiting crowded and confined places. This includes religious gatherings, shopping malls, markets, etc. Such locations can put you and your kids at more risk of getting infected. According to the CDC, social distancing is the most effective way of dealing with virus transmission.
Studies have shown that even if people practice proper handwashing and good hygiene, without social distancing there’s still a risk. They are still at risk of infection especially if they stay with family members. This is why it is important to self-isolate if one has come in contact with an infected individual.
There you have it, if you have toddlers and infants, medical face masks are not recommended. The onus lies on you to teach your kids how to protect themselves using the steps above. It is also important that as you do this, you should also keep yourself safe.