During 1920, a plague broke out between a shared jurisdiction of China and Russia. The Chinese Imperial Court brought in a young doctor named Lien-teh Wu that determined that the plague was not spread by fleas but through the air. He expanded upon the surgery masks he'd seen in the West, and made it from gauze and cotton and added several layers of cloth to filter inhalations.
When the Spanish flu arrived in 1918, the mask was well-known among scientists and the public.
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The mask - a flimsy polymer cup - fits tightly around the face and is capable of filtering 95% of airborne particles, such as viruses, from the air.
The firsts masks were cloth placed around the mouths and noses of people and were not meant to be against contagion. It was to stop the smell as people thought that the stench caused disease. By protecting themselves from the smell, people thought they'd be protected from the disease.
Instead of fiberglass, single-use respirators are made from melted polymer and air-blasted into layers of tiny fibers with bigger spaces between them.
As particles fly into this maze of fibers, they get stuck. An electrostatic charge is added to the material, so even smaller particles are pulled toward the fibers, while the big holes make it easy to breathe. The longer you wear an N95 respirator, the more efficient it becomes. But breathing becomes more difficult over time as the bigger holes get clogged up with particles.
Doctors started wearing the first surgical masks in 1897. The masks were not designed to prevent airborne disease - that is still not the case today - but to prevent doctors from coughing or sneezing droplets onto wounds during surgery.
Due to the Wuhan virus spreading across the world, the use of face masks might seem a good means of protection.
The N95 mask, which is a heavy-duty mask offers better protection (95% of airborne particles are blocked) but is uncomfortable to be worn for long periods as it gets difficult to breathe.
The more common and disposable surgical masks are comfortable to wear and are more easily available than the N95 ones, but offer meagre protection, especially against airborne pathogens.
The medical term for “maskne” is acne mechanica, a skin condition brought on by prolonged wear of masks & facial personal protective equipment.
Wearing masks can impose heat, friction and occlusion on the skin and when combined with a moist environment from breathing, talking or sweating, leads to breakouts.
Pores get clogged and can become pimples or acne cysts. On top of that, the prolonged occlusion, heat and sweat can cause the skin to become dry, itchy and raw.
Research shows that, whenever we help others, we help ourselves too. This happens because we focus on someone else's needs rather than ours, which enables us to feel less stressed and more connected to the ones around. Therefore, our actions turn out to be beneficial both for the recipients and for the helpers.
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