Difference between Non-Medical Masks and Medical Masks

Non-medical masks and medical masks are two different types of masks that are designed for different purposes. Both types of masks have the ability to filter out small particles and droplets that can potentially transmit viruses and other pathogens. However, there are some key differences between the two types of masks that make them more suitable for different situations.

What is Non-medical Mask?

The term "non-medical mask" refers to any mask worn by members of the public other than those in the medical profession.

  • Type of non-medical masks − Cloth masks of many styles and purposes are examples of non-medical masks. Cotton, or even sock material, is commonly used to create masks. Non-medical mask regulations in several nations stipulate that a fabric mask have three layers. They need to be cleaned often and fitted properly without restricting airflow. Wearing the mask properly involves covering the whole mouth and nose. Both the skull and the ears may be accommodated by the mask's construction.

  • When non-medical masks should be worn − If you're going to be out and about and unable to prevent contact with other people, a non-medical mask can be a lifesaver. This necessitates the use of a mask while going out in public places like stores or subways to help contain the COVID-19 outbreak. The goal is to prevent your secretions from escaping into the air, but it should also keep other people's secretions from entering your nasal and oral passages as well.

  • Limitations − Unlike medical masks, which are often constructed of plastic or rubber, non-medical masks are typically made of fabric or paper and have a very limited capacity to prevent secretions and virus particles. But, while they do provide some amount of safety, it's crucial to keep in mind that they are not a guarantee and that additional precautions like keeping your distance from others, washing your hands often, and keeping your hands away from your face are still necessary.

What is Medical Mask?

A medical mask is a form of facial covering worn by medical staff as part of their PPE, or personal protective equipment.

  • Type of medical masks − The most prevalent kinds of medical masks are surgical masks and N-95 masks. A variety of these masks are available, each with its own level of filtration efficiency; the N-95 mask is particularly suggested for use by healthcare staff in environments where COVID-19 patients are present. These masks can effectively block out around 95% of particles.

  • When medical masks should be worn − Professionals in the healthcare industry include physicians, nurses, radiologists, and others who provide direct patient care. Medical masks, along with other forms of PPE, should always be worn at a healthcare facility. This is done to protect the healthcare professional who will have the most direct contact with patients who are actively shedding the COVID-19 virus through their sneezing and coughing.

  • Limitations − Medical masks are more difficult to get and more expensive to purchase, but they are also more effective in blocking viruses and secretions. Because some medical professionals have contracted COVID-19 from their patients while using personal protective equipment (PPE) such medical masks, it is clear that these masks do not provide enough protection against exposure to COVID-19.

Differences: Non-medical Masks and Medical Masks

The following table highlights the major differences between Medical and Non-medical Masks −


Non-medical Masks

Medical Masks


Public masks, also known as "non-medical masks," are worn by members of the public and are typically crafted by members of the community.

Health care workers are the intended recipients and intended wearers of medical masks.


Most common among non-medical masks is the cloth kind.

During the current COVID-19 epidemic, the surgical mask and the N-95 are the two most common forms of medical mask worn by healthcare professionals.


The public uses non-medical masks to shield themselves from the respiratory droplets of others and to prevent the spread of disease.

It is important to use a medical mask while dealing with individuals who are sick and coughing up respiratory droplets that may contain virus particles.


Viruses like the flu can get through non-medical masks with around a 50%-33% reduction in efficiency.

When compared to the average face mask, a medical mask is around two to three times more efficient at preventing the spread of infectious diseases like the flu.


A non-medical mask can be purchased for a low price and is widely accessible.

Finding and purchasing a medical mask is a lot more difficult and costly.


In conclusion, non-medical masks and medical masks are two different types of masks that are designed for different purposes. Non-medical masks are typically made from materials such as cotton or polyester and are designed to filter out large particles and droplets. They are not intended to protect the wearer from airborne pathogens, but rather to protect others from the wearer.

Medical masks, on the other hand, are made from materials such as polypropylene and are designed to filter out a much higher percentage of particles because their purpose is to prevent infection of the user. Both types of masks are important in preventing the spread of pathogens, but they should be used in different situations.

Updated on: 19-Apr-2023


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