One of the biggest criticisms people have when it comes to surgical masks is that they feel like it's harder to breathe. Thus, we decided to answer the question: Why do masks feel suffocating after wearing them for extended periods of time? And, why are surgical masks uncomfortable to wear?
Most of it actually is psychological. For the most part, recycling your own air for long periods of time is a new sensation, so it reads as uncomfortable in your brain. This is just part of the experience when wearing a high filtration mask that does its job.
But that begs another question: Is a mask that is more comfortable to wear less effective than one that isn’t? In all likelihood, yes. The exterior and interior layer of a well-made mask should deflect water to be an effective virus blocker. A cloth mask or neck gaiter may feel nicer than a surgical mask, but you’re only increasing the chance of exposure. Cloth absorbs moisture and “other things,” whereas a surgical mask deflects it.
The extra protection in a surgical mask is in fact static electricity. The charged particles in a surgical mask catch really small things such as COVID-19. However, static eventually fades, so you should be sure to always use a fresh mask.
Is my mask suffocating me?
No, it's not. When Lloyd Armbrust first started the mask factory he was wearing a mask for the first time in his life for upwards of 14 hours. There were many times he had to go outside take his mask off and take a couple of deep breaths.
Lloyd believes a lot of the panic surrounding masks and whether or not they are suffocating folks is psychological. A good mask is actually blocking water from coming out, so you're going to feel that in this small little area. And you’ve never felt that before.
Is there anything to the idea that some masks are more breathable than others?
Yes. In fact, the thing that's going to protect you in a real surgical mask is something that deflects water. That interior layer and the exterior later should deflect water. That’s the part of the mask that actually protects you against things like COVID-19.
When you’re wearing like a cloth mask or a gaiter, that might feel really good that’s because the mask is absorbing moisture and other things. We think of a filter as this thing with tiny holes in it that catches stuff. COVID-19 is way too small for that, can go through any cloth mask or neck gaiter quite easily.
So you need something extra. And that “extra” is static electricity. That static electricity, or these charged particles that actually catch really really small things like COVID-19. But the thing about static electricity is after a while it wears out.
The quality of mask really does matter, which is why Armbrust USA strives to make its masks super breathable.