Unmasking COVID-19 Mask Confusion! N95 vs K95 Masks

24 Jun

We are finally getting to walk around the streets. Sometimes I feel like I am in a science fiction movie where we are walking around like muzzled dogs. It is what it is! Adding to the confusion are the assorted types of masks that are out there.

Fashion Forward Masking

There are the fashionable masks! Some people choose the ” Billy the Kid ” Bank Robber look and just throw on a bandanna. Some choose the surgical mask which used to be the exclusive domain of us physicians. Then you have the highly effective N95 mask and now the new kid on the block the K95.

N95 vs K95 Masks

N95 vs K95 Masks What’s the Difference ?

What’s the deal? Which one is better. Is k95 better than N95? Well, let’s try to demystify the confusion since it looks like the mask scene will be with us for a while

N95 vs K95 Masks vs K9 mask

Well there is no K9 mask for humans, that is just short for canine. K95 and N95 masks for all intents and purposes are equivalent. N95 vs K95 Masks, the main difference is N95 masks meet US standards and the K95 meets Chinese standards

What’s the same ? Both filter out 95% of particles. The K95 must pass a fit test and the N95 doesn’t. However, the N95 has stricter breathability requirements. This is of course important if you want to breathe comfortably.

The following is an excellent video that outlines these differences

Surgical Facemasks vs N95 vs K95 masks

Surgical facemasks are looser fitting and protect you from larger droplets. They do not filter small particles from the air the way the N95/K95 models do. There is also leakage around the edges when you breath in. However, the surgical mask DOES protect your friends and neighbors when YOU cough or sneeze. The main design of the surgical mask is to protect patients from the surgeon as a potential source of germs. To some degree if everyone wore these masks, everyone in theory would be protected. It certainly won’t hurt

Fashion over Function

The fashionable masks out there have a wide variability in function. There is no standard. Other than us doctors who are used to wearing surgical masks, this won’t work for those of you who want to look good. You always have the option of wearing a surgical mask under the fashion forward mask. By placing fashion over function you get the best of both worlds, at least until wearing a mask is no longer all the rage.

Dr. Stuart Silverstein,



4 thoughts on “Unmasking COVID-19 Mask Confusion! N95 vs K95 Masks

  1. Vert clear, thank you. In the section “N95 vs K95 Masks vs K9 mask”, 2nd paragraph, second sentence it states “The KN95 must ..”. I believe it should say K95 and not KN95.
    Thank you, Zarin (Yair’s father)

    • Zarin, nice to hear from you ! We hope all is well for you and the family during this challenging time ! You are correct that was an error and I just corrected it ! It is K95 not N95 All the Best, Stu Silverstein, MD

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