The COVID-19 virus generally spreads among people through airborne respiratory droplets released when infected individuals sneeze, cough, or talk. The virus can make its way to the faces of people in close proximity when they inhale the contaminated air and draw in the infection. Evidence and studies conducted on COVID-19 infection control suggest that the exhaled infected droplets can travel up to 6 feet. That is why keeping a distance of at least 6 feet from other people is extremely important.
If you start developing symptoms of flu, cold, coronavirus, or other similar illnesses, covering your face with a proper mask can keep others around you from catching your pathogens. It is equally important to observe infection prevention practices while putting on and taking off the facemask. This article will highlight how to wear your mask correctly and ensure the optimal effectiveness, as well as which one to choose from the different types of masks available on the market.
There are different types of face masks that you can get on the market. The most common ones are:
- N95 respirator masks.
- Non-medical KN95 masks.
- Medical or surgical masks.
- Disposable protective masks.
When to Wear a Face Mask?
As per the WHO recommendations, use a surgical or medical mask only in the following conditions:
- If you are suffering from a fever, have a cough, or any other respiratory ailment.
- If you are looking after someone who has a respiratory condition.
- Wear a surgical or medical mask when you are within 6 feet of an ill patient.
While a medical mask can catch smaller respiratory particles, it cannot keep you from contracting the COVID-19 infection. It is mainly because medical masks cannot keep smaller airborne pathogens out. They also don’t fit snug over your face, allowing some particles to infiltrate through the sides. Studies have shown that surgical or medical masks are less effective in protecting the wearers from contracting infections in public settings.
At present, the CDC has advised the general public to avoid wearing N95 respirators or surgical masks for protection against respiratory infections like the novel coronavirus. Such masks should be reserved for first responders and healthcare workers. Luckily, there are non-medical options available, like the NewRain’s KN95 masks and disposable protective masks.
How to Properly Wear Your Mask
There are a few things you need to keep in mind once you have a mask, before putting it on to ensure optimal effectiveness and safety.
- Properly sanitize or wash your hands for at least 20 seconds using a bar of soap or handwash. Only use clean paper towels to dry your hands.
- Take a detailed look at the face mask to spot any potential defects. If there are any flaws, discard the mask.
- The masks have two sides, and you have to make sure that you wear the mask correctly by placing the exterior shell away from the face.
- Put the loops over your ears and make sure that the bendable, adjustable section lands over the top of your nose.
- In case of a mask with ties, secure it over your face by making a bow with them behind your head.
- The bendable upper section of the mask needs to be adequately secured by pinching it until it sits snug over your nose.
- Securing the face mask is essential, as any space left between your face and the fabric of the mask leaves an opening for the pathogens to enter. The mask should correctly cover your mouth and your nose.
- Once you are done, wash or sanitize your hands.
What You Should Avoid While Wearing a Mask
After donning a mask, there are still a few practices that must be observed to ensure your safety and fulfill the face mask’s purpose. When you are wearing a mask, you should avoid doing the following:
- Touching the outer side of the mask, as it will have all of the filtered pathogens.
- Hanging the mask with one loop over the ear.
- Playing around or tweaking the mask.
- Bringing the mask down from the nose and mouth.
- Reusing the disposable masks.
How to Properly Take Off a Face Mask
The proper way of taking off a mask is as follows:
- Wash or sanitize your hands before taking off the mask.
- Grab the mask by the bands or loops, as the mask’s outer surface could be covered with germs.
- Carefully remove the mask away from your face.
- Discard the mask right way, while holding it from the loops or bands.
- Use soap or a hand sanitizer to wash or sanitize your hands.
By following these practices, you will not only increase the effectiveness of your mask but also keep yourself and others safe.