Face masks play an integral role in curbing the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). According to the WHO, masks prevent onward transmission from an infected person. Since many people who get infected do not show symptoms, it is imperative that we all wear face masks when in public settings regardless of whether we feel sick.
It’s also important that the mask be worn properly. If the mask does not correctly cover your face or you do not take the necessary steps before putting it on, it may not provide maximum protection for you and others.
How to correctly wear a face mask
Wash your hands
Before putting on your mask, you must wash your hands. The WHO recommends Alcohol-based hand sanitizers to be used for 20-30 seconds or soap and water to be used for 40-60 seconds.
Put on the mask using only the bands
When you put on the face mask, you should only touch it from the bands or ties.
Ensure the mask covers your nose, mouth, and chin
According to the CDC, the mask should fit snugly but comfortably against the sides of your face. Make sure the mask covers your nose, mouth, and chin with no gaps between your face and the mask. Gently press the nose piece around the nose but do not touch the front of the mask. Also, pay attention to breathability and comfort.
If you wear glasses and they fog up, it’s likely that you did not properly apply the mask.
Avoid touching the mask
You should not touch the mask while wearing it to avoid contamination. If you need to adjust it to more adequately cover your face, wash your hands immediately as there may be COVID-19 particles on the surface of the mask. Do not pull down your mask to speak with others and consider replacing it if it feels damp after a while.
How to properly take off a mask
While removing the mask, do not touch the front of the mask
Both the CDC and WHO are vocal about not touching the front or sides of the mask to remove it. Instead, lean forward slightly and remove the loops or untie the strings from behind the ears and avoid touching any part of your face.
Wash your hands, again
This is even more important after taking off the mask, as you are at a higher risk of contamination having touched the mask. Follow the same hand-washing routine mentioned before.
Discard disposable masks and wash reusable ones
With disposable masks, throw them in the bin, but reusable masks can be washed. The CDC says you can include the face mask with your regular laundry, though washing by hand is an option as well. Clean thoroughly using tap water and soap or detergent.