Surgical and N95 Masks are personal protective equipment used to protect the mouth and nose from contact with potentially contaminated airborne particles. Earloop and molded surgical masks are effective at reducing exposure to large particles from coughing or sneezing that may transmit germs to you or a patient. These types of masks are great for use in low-risk environments such as dental or clinical examinations. It is important to consider the level of protection needed since surgical masks have a looser fit that does not provide adequate protection against all hazardous airborne particles. N95 respirator masks offer greater respiratory protection against the transfer of infectious diseases, bodily fluids and hazardous materials by creating a fitted seal over the nose and mouth that prevents at least 95 percent of microscopic particles. Respirator masks must be certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) before being labeled as a N95 respirator. Surgical N95 masks must also be reviewed and cleared by the FDA for acceptable fluid resistance in order to be labeled as Surgical N95 Respirators.
Latex exam gloves are another critical piece of personal protective equipment used to prevent the transfer of germs and diseases as a part of an infection-control strategy. Since latex is made of a natural rubber material that can cause allergic reactions in some individuals, always ensure that neither you or a patient does not have a latex allergy before using latex gloves. If you or a patient is allergic, gloves made of a synthetic material should be used instead, like nitrile or vinyl. Sterile latex gloves should be used in medical procedures and exams when aseptic technique is required to prevent infections, such as when inserting an intermittent catheter.
Hand sanitizing products are a quick and convenient solution for keeping your hands free of germs. Hand sanitizer is not a substitute for proper hand washing, however they can help improve hand hygiene between washing hands or after taking off exam gloves. Gojo manufactures several brands of foaming and non-foaming hand sanitizers as well as hand sanitizer dispensers for offices and healthcare environments. Purell hand sanitizer is the most popular and well-known Gojo product, and the touch-free dispenser is ideal for clinical and examination environments.
PDI manufactures several types of sanitizing and disinfecting wipes used for sanitizing hands and disinfecting hard surfaces and materials. Sani-Hands wipes are ideal for use before meals and in situations where germs are frequently spread, such as schools and daycares. Super Sani-Cloth germicidal wipes are used to disinfect non-porous surfaces and materials and prevent the spread of infectious germs and disease. The high alcohol content and quaternary compound used in Super Sani-Cloth can completely kill bacteria and viruses in as little as two minutes. Most PDI wipes are packaged in an easily-accessible tub or in individual packets that are great for everyday use.
Antiseptic wipes are commonly used to clean and prepare skin before medical procedures and when treating wounds, cuts or scrapes. They typically use either alcohol, povidone-iodine or benzalkonium chloride (BZK) to kill germs and sterilize the surface of the skin to prevent internal infections. Our Infection Control Blog has other helpful information on the types of antiseptic wipes as well as on how to use antiseptic skin cleanser.