Surgical Masks

Protect yourself and others from the transmission of infections and viruses by wearing surgical masks and preventing droplets from spreading.
Cromwell stock a curated range of surgical masks from well-known brands such as Polyco®, Pulsar®, and St John Ambulance®.

What are surgical masks?

Surgical masks are a type of medical face covering which can protect the patient or the operator from transmitting infections and diseases through droplets in the breath. There are 3 types of these face masks, based on the protection they offer.

Why use surgical masks?

Surgical masks are used to protect the patient and surgeon from transmitting infective agents which can be transmitted by droplets in their breath. At higher protection levels, there are more layers built into the mask which can filter more and even protect against splashes.

When to use surgical masks?

Surgical masks should be used by medical professionals when there could be a risk of infection to either the patient or to personnel. However, due to the COVID pandemic, surgical masks have become widely used by the public to prevent transmission of the disease between the public.

Surgical mask types

There are 3 safety ratings that apply to surgical masks, all offering a base level of performance and increasing filtration in the higher levels. It is important to choose the correct type of surgical mask so the required level of performance can be achieved. The masks must also conform to EN 14683 and be CE marked.

• Type I   -   This type of surgical mask provides ≥ 95% bacterial filtration and is easier to breathe in than Type IIR. Microbial cleanliness during manufacturing is ≥ 30 cfu/g.

• Type II   -   This type of surgical mask provides ≥ 98% bacterial filtration, and is just as easy to breathe in as Type I. Microbial cleanliness during manufacturing is also ≥ 30 cfu/g.

• Type IIR   -   This type of surgical mask also provides ≥ 98% bacterial filtration, but while the breathability may be harder than Type II, the mask offers splash resistance pressure of ≥ 16.0 kPa. Microbial cleanliness during manufacturing once again is ≥ 30 cfu/g.

Considerations when choosing surgical masks

• Ply   -   Ply thickness determines the number of layers the surgical mask is constructed with. Generally, the higher the number of plies, the more protection is offered as there can be more filter layers added. 3-Ply is usually used by medical professionals and offers splash protection with 4-ply offering maximum protection.

• Ear Loop   -   Surgical masks at times can be used for many hours at a time. It is important to consider the ear loops of the masks to ensure it is a comfortable fit for the wearer.

• Nose Bridge   -   The nose bridge is a metal strip which is built into the surgical mask. It can be bended to fit around the nose of the wearer. It is important to consider the nose bridge of the surgical mask to ensure it can fit so it can improve the seal around the face.

Surgical mask jargon buster

What is EN 14683?

EN 14683 is a standard for medical face masks for use in the EU. The standard outlines the construction, design, performance requirements and test methods for medical face masks intended to limit transmission of infective agents. The testing requirements for this standard include bacterial filtration, breathability, microbial cleanliness, and splash resistance.


Are surgical masks biodegradable?

Surgical masks tend to be constructed with a plastic filtering element within, stopping them from being biodegradable.

Are surgical masks mandatory?

Surgical masks are often mandatory during a treatment to prevent the transmission of infections and diseases. Surgical masks were often used as a form of protective face covering during the COVID pandemic; however these restrictions have now been eased.