What types of masks should children wear?

What types of masks should children wear

Introduction

Wearing masks is an effective way to protect your children from COVID-19 and stop the spread. Currently, there are a variety of masks available for parents to choose from, ranging from the usual blue surgical masks to fancy cloth masks with superhero characters on them. Every parent wants to know which types of masks are the best for their children. In this article, we list some important factors for parents to consider before discussing the common mask types currently on the market, such as medical procedure masks, KN95, KF94 and cloth masks.

 

Focus on comfort and fit

Masks are protective only when children are actually wearing them. This is the reason why many experts suggest that parent should let their children choose the masks they like or let them help decorate their own masks. They are more likely to wear a mask if they feel that they have a say in making the decision. The best mask is a mask comfortable enough for your children to wear it properly. This is especially true for younger children because an uncomfortable mask will make it more difficult for them to resist the temptation to fiddle with it all day long. Choose a mask which completely covers your children’s nose, mouth and under the chin. A proper mask fits snugly against the sides of the face and leaves no gaps. Poorly fitting masks which have gaps around the sides of the face or nose will increase the risk of infection because virus-laden respiratory droplets may leak in and out through such gaps.

 

Pack spare masks for school or outings

Once you find the best mask for your children, it is a good idea to buy some extras as spare. Reusable cloth masks or disposable surgical masks need to be changed regularly because they will get dirty, damp or wet. Dirty or wet masks are not only uncomfortable, but also less efficient in blocking viruses. If your children tend to lick or chew on the mask, work with them to correct such behavior and prepare multiple spare masks in advance. It may be more economical to go for reusable cloth masks if your children need to change their masks many times a day. Disposable surgical masks are intended for one-time use only and should be thrown away if they get damp or dirty. While they may be more convenient, it may prove more costly over time.

 

Practice how to wear a mask correctly at home

Children need time to learn and practice before they can pick up new habits. Parents should teach their children the right way to wear a mask beforehand to avoid inconvenience since most indoor public places require visitors to wear a mask. Children also need to wear a mask in classrooms, which means that they may have to wear it for a whole day. Under such circumstances, it is crucial that they learn how to wear a mask properly so that they can be fully protected from COVID-19 and help minimize its transmission.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued guidelines on the correct use of masks. They in order to help children adapt to the new normal, parents should set a good example to them by wearing masks properly themselves. Give your children plenty of gentle reminders if they cannot follow the rules at first. Click for more tips.

 

Medical procedure masks

Medical procedure masks are also known as surgical masks or disposable face masks. Generally, they are composed of three layers of synthetic non-woven materials and have filtration layers sandwiched in the middle. These masks are fluid-resistant and provide the wearer protection against large droplets, splashes or sprays of bodily or other hazardous fluids. They can also help prevent the wearer from spreading virus-laden droplets to others.

It is important to remember that medical procedure masks are single-use masks that should not be washed or laundered. Once your mask is damp or dirty, it should be changed as soon as possible because it will become less effective in blocking viruses.

For children with underlying health conditions who are more likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19, it is recommended that they should wear medical procedure masks. Any child who shows possible symptoms of COVID-19 should also wear a medical procedure mask.

Note that medical procedure masks are loose-fitting masks and pathogens may leak in through gaps when the wearer breathes. Make sure your child’s mask can fit snugly against their face. You can reduce the gaps between the mask and the face by making knots on the ear loops where they join the edge of the mask or using a mask fitter/mask brace.

 

KN95 or KF94 face masks

KN95 masks are disposable respirators which meet the Chinese standard GB2626-2006. They are similar to N95 respirators in that they can filter non-oil-based particles, such as those from wildfires, PM2.5 air pollution and bioaerosols (eg viruses). As suggested by its name, a KN95 mask can filter up to 95% of the particles in the air. These masks may be preferable in situations where prolonged close contact with people who do not live in the same household is unavoidable or may be better for people who have higher risks of contracting severe illness from COVID-19.

On the other hand, KF94 masks are disposable masks which meet the South Korean standard. KF stands for “Korean Filter” and 94 refers to its filtration efficiency. In other words, it can block out 94% of small airborne particles. KF94 masks are broadly used in South Korea.

Child-size KN95 and KF94 masks are both available on the market now. Beware of counterfeit masks which do not meet the relevant standards though. KN95 and KF94 masks provide high filtration efficacy. However, they may be difficult to get hold of and more expensive than cloth masks or surgical masks. It is up to the parents to decide whether they should let their children wear KN95 or KF94 masks.

 

Non-medical masks (cloth masks)

A non-medical mask, also called cloth mask or fabric mask, can be made from a variety of natural and synthetic fabrics and fibers. Like medical masks, cloth masks can block the release of exhaled respiratory particles into the environment (ie it stops the transmission of pathogens) and filtrate the virus-laden respiratory droplets (so it protects the wearers from inhaling the pathogens).

The WHO recommends that children who are in general good health can wear a cloth mask. The good things about them are that they are easier to obtain, affordable, comfortable and reusable. These products, however, are not regulated by local health authorities. Their efficacy in protecting wearers from getting and spreading COVID-19 depends on the fabrics used, number of fabric layers and layering sequences, among other things. If you decide to buy a cloth mask, look for one that is made of multiple layers of tightly woven and breathable fabrics, such as cotton or cotton blends. It is also important to ensure that a cloth mask can sufficiently cover the nose, mouth and chin of your child. Using a mask fitter can improve its fit and thereby improve wearer protection.

Cloth masks should be washed as soon as they become dirty or wet, or at least once a day. Use soap or detergent to clean your cloth masks with hot water of 60°C/140°F or above. You can also wash these masks in room temperature water and then boil them for one minute.

 

Where to buy face masks for children?

Children’s masks are widely available nowadays in retail stores or online shopping platforms such as Amazon. For cloth masks, choose multiple-layered ones made from tightly-woven and breathable fabrics. For medical procedure masks, KN95 or KF94 masks, it is better to buy reputable brands so that the quality of masks can be trusted.

Established in 1989, Medtecs is a professional supplier of personal protective equipment (PPE) and a trusted multi-national PPE stockpiling solutions provider to governments and group purchasing organizations around the world. We offer high quality medical masks for everyday protection of your precious little ones. Soft, stretchy and latex-free ear loops combined with our unique adjustable nose clip not only ensure our masks have a comfortable 3D fit for maximum protection, but also make our mask ideal for all-day wear. Welcome to visit our Amazon shop and official online shop Medtecs Express for more details.

 

Conclusion

In order to protect your child from COVID-19, it is crucial to help them adapt to wearing a mask whenever it is necessary. There are many different types of masks for parents to choose from, including medical procedure masks, KN95, KF94 and cloth masks. Each one has their pros and cons. The most important thing is to choose a qualified mask that your child can tolerate. Focus on comfort and fit so that it will be easier for your child to resist the temptation to rip off their masks. Prepare more than one mask for your child. Dirty or wet masks are not only less effective in protecting your child from the virus but also uncomfortable to wear. Lastly, train your child for good masking techniques at home in advance so they will be more confident in wearing a mask correctly in public.

 

Reference

1. Comparison of FFP2, KN95, and N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirator Classes. (2021, February). 3M.
2. Face Masks, Barrier Face Coverings, Surgical Masks, and Respirators for COVID-19. (2021). U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 
3. Guidance for Wearing Masks. (2021). US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
4. Improve How Your Mask Protects You. (2021). US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
5. Improve the Fit and Filtration of Your Mask to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19. (2021). US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
6. Mask use in the context of COVID-19. (2020). World Health Organization. 
7. Science Brief: Community Use of Cloth Masks to Control the Spread of SARS-CoV-2. (2021). US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
8. Understanding the Difference. (n.d.). US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
9. World Health Organization. (2020a). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Children and masks. 
10. World Health Organization. (2020b). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Masks. 
11. Your Guide to Masks. (2021). US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

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