Unless you are in the medical field, chances are you’ve never had much reason to wear a face mask.
But at the time of coronavirus, face masks are recommended and have become the new standard.
We asked medical experts to break down some of the most common mistakes many of us make while wearing masks.
From tips for keeping your mask clean to tips for getting the best fit possible, consider this your go-to guide to getting the most out of your mask.
Cover your nose and mouth
Face masks are one way to protect yourself and others from the spread of the coronavirus, but they are only effective if worn correctly.
So when you put one on, make sure it covers the most vulnerable places on your face: your nose and mouth.
“These are the areas from which the virus can be shed,” said Dr. David M Aronoff, director of the infectious disease division at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
“The masks should fit comfortably over the bridge of the nose. “
Depending on the shape of your nose, your mask may be a little above or below this spot.
The key, according to telemedicine doctor and autoimmune disease specialist Dr Brooke Goldner, is to make sure that most of your nose and all of your mouth are covered.
How to wear face masks properly
“The positioning on the nose can vary depending on the shape of your nose,” Goldner said.
“So the position should be where there is the best seal around your nose and mouth.
“For most people, it’s the top of your nose under your eyes.”
Aronoff says face masks large enough to protect your chin are great, but not necessarily essential.
“The chin does not need to be covered, but it is easier to get a good seal around the mouth if the chin is used to support it), so many masks will fit the chin perfectly”, said Aronoff.
It should fit snugly, but comfortably
Wearing a mask takes some getting used to, but it should never restrict your ability to breathe.
“The mask doesn’t have to be uncomfortably tight, but you want to make sure there is no space between your face and the mask,” Goldner said.
Small deviations are normal and inevitable, but the less and the smaller the better.
This is because your mask should form a protective shield around your face.
“When you breathe in, the air will try to find the path of least resistance into your body.
“If there are gaps between your face and the mask, the air will go around the mask rather than through it, negating the benefits.
“The goal is for the air to pass through the mask, not around, to filter the air before inhaling it,” Goldner said.
Ensuring a good fit can also help you avoid frequently readjusting your mask, which can lead to cross-contamination.
Dr George Anesi is director of the Medical Critical Care Bioresponse team at Penn Medicine.
“In general, a mask is less useful or counterproductive if it does not cover the nose and mouth – as if it is worn around the neck for long periods of time, or if it is ill-fitting to the point that it requires frequent adjustment, which brings your hands closer to your face repeatedly, ”said Anesi.
wash your hands
Putting on a clean protective mask is not helpful if you touch the inside of it with dirty hands.
The key to keeping your mask as hygienic as possible is to wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water (or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer) before putting it on.
You also need to pick it up by the ties to do this.
Once the mask is in place, the next task is to prevent cross contamination while you are on the go.
Here’s a tip from Dr. Ruth L Bush, Associate Dean of Medical Education and Professor at the University of Houston College of Medicine.
“Cross-contamination occurs when a person touches under their mask or touches someone or a surface (a doorknob, box or can in the grocery store) and then touches their mask,” Bush said.
“Don’t look for a product in the store, then adjust your mask.
“Avoid going under your mask if you are itchy. “
If you absolutely must adjust your mask while wearing it, be sure to wash your hands with disinfectant or soap and water.
It is also best to avoid touching your cell phone when wearing a mask and gloves.
But if you have an urgent call to make, use the speakerphone to avoid touching the phone / your hands to the mask, then disinfect the phone.
When it’s time to remove the mask, disinfect your hands again before loosening any rubber ear clips, buckles, or ear bands.
“Try to avoid touching the outside of the mask and fold it on itself with the outside for storage. It can be stored in a paper bag,” Anesi said.
And, of course, wash your hands again after removing your mask.
Regularly clean your sheet mask
It is quite difficult to get hold of a disposable mask these days, and N95 masks should be reserved for healthcare workers.
Therefore, many of us are turning to cloth masks.
Whether you made your own or bought one online, sheet masks should be cleaned regularly, ideally after each use.
“A washing machine on the hot water setting with your normal detergent should be enough to clean your mask,” said Dr. Edo Paz, medical vice president at K Health primary care service.
Once clean, dry the mask thoroughly (in a dryer or on a clothesline) before putting it back on your face.
To avoid contaminating your freshly cleaned mask, try to keep it away from common surfaces around the house and store it in a paper bag – avoiding plastic bags and containers that trap moisture.
If you are using a disposable face mask, the cleaning guidelines are slightly different.
“Disposable masks can probably be used all day in public spaces, but should not be reused on another day.”
“It is recommended that you seek information on cleaning or disinfecting commercially available disposable masks from the manufacturer,” Aronoff said.
Once you have finished using a disposable mask, wash your hands and remove the mask using the clips then throw it in a trash can.
Personal protective face shield
In addition to wearing a mask, there are also personal protective face shields that provide another layer of protection against sneezes, coughs and other airborne particles.
They are also an alternative for people who cannot wear face masks due to underlying medical conditions like asthma.
You can find more information about South Australian business face shields Ned’s head.
Wearing a mask when leaving home for essential outdoor travel is now either mandatory, in the case of Melbourne, or highly recommended elsewhere.
But that’s not the only way to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
To protect yourself and others, you should always follow social distancing guidelines.
“Social distancing is the most effective tool we have to end this pandemic.”
“Protective gear, such as masks and gloves, can create a false sense of security, leading people to be less careful and intentional about what they touch and to wash their hands or ( get them to) ignore social distancing, ”Goldner mentioned.
In other words, just because you have a few masks around the house doesn’t mean you should start leaving the house more often.
Dr George Anesi says a mask can be used to reduce the risk of transmission to others during essential public activities.
“A mask should not be used to justify additional or non-essential public activities,” Anesi said
“Continued social distancing is the most effective tool we have to end this pandemic. “