Are you using face mask Correctly?

Are you using face mask Correctly? Wearing a face mask often helps people feel safe and confident. But can surgical face mask prevent you from being exposed to certain infectious diseases or transmitting them?

And if face masks shield you from infectious diseases like COVID-19, is there a proper way of putting them on, taking them off, and discarding them? Continue reading, to find out.

What is a Surgical face mask?

A surgical mask is a rectangular-shaped, loose-fitting, disposable mask. The mask has elastic bands or ties that can be looped behind your ears to hold it in place, or tied behind your head. A metal strip at the top of the mask may be present and can be pinched to fit the mask around your nose.

A properly worn three-ply surgical mask may help block transmission from droplets, sprays, splatters, and splashes of large-particle microorganisms. The mask may also reduce the chance of contact from hand to face.

The three-ply layers of the surgical mask operate as follows:

  1. The external layer repels water, blood, and other fluids in the body.
  2. Some pathogens are filtered into the middle layer.
  3. The inner layer absorbs sweat and moisture from exhaled air.
Yet the surgical mask edges do not form a tight seal around your nose or mouth. Therefore small airborne particles like those transmitted by coughing or sneezing can not be filtered out.

When are you supposed to wear a face mask?

The Trusted Source of the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the use of surgical masks only when: Have a fever, cough or other symptoms of breathing

Good but take care of someone with respiratory disease — wear a mask in this case when you're within 6 feet or closer to someone who's ill. While a surgical mask may help trap large respiratory droplets, it can not protect you from contracting the novel coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2. 

That is because the masks:
  • Do not filter out particles smaller in the air
  • Don't fit snugly on your face, so airborne particles can leak through your mask's sides
Some studies have failed to show that surgical masks in the community or public environments effectively prevent exposure to infectious diseases.

How to put on a surgical mask

If you need to wear a surgical mask, take the following steps to put one on correctly.

Steps to putting on a face mask

  • Before putting on the mask, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or rub your hands together thoroughly with alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Check for defects in the face mask, such as tears or broken loops.
  • Position the colored side of the mask outward.
  • If present, make sure the metallic strip is at the top of the mask and positioned against the bridge of your nose.

If the mask has:
  • Earloops: Hold the mask by both ear loops and place one loop over each ear.
  • Ties: Hold the mask by the upper strings. Tie the upper strings in a secure bow near the crown of your head. Tie the bottom strings securely in a bow near the nape of your neck.
  • Dual elastic bands: Pull the top band over your head and position it against the crown of your head. Pull the bottom band over your head and position it against the nape of your neck.
  • Mold the bendable metallic upper strip to the shape of your nose by pinching and pressing down on it with your fingers.
  • Pull the bottom of the mask over your mouth and chin.
  • Be sure the mask fits snugly.
  • Don’t touch the mask once in position.
  • If the mask gets soiled or damp, replace it with a new one.

What not to do when wearing a mask

Once the mask is securely positioned, there are certain precautions to keep in mind to ensure that pathogens are not passed on to your face or hands.

Never do this:

Once secured on your face, touch the mask, because it might have pathogens on it
Flip the mask through one ear
Mask hanging around your neck
Cross the ties
Use single-use masks again
If you are having to touch the face mask while wearing it, first wash your hands. Be sure to wash your hands later, or use the hand sanitizer afterward.

How to remove and discard a surgical mask

It’s important to remove the face mask correctly to ensure you don’t transfer any germs to your hands or face. You also want to make sure you discard the mask safely.

  • Steps to taking off a face mask
  • Before you take off the mask, wash your hands well, or use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching the mask itself, as it could be contaminated. Hold it by the loops, ties, or bands only.
  • Carefully remove the mask from your face once you:
  • unhook both ear loops, or
  • untie the bottom bow first, followed by the top one, or
  • remove the bottom band first by lifting it over your head, then do the same with the top band
  • Holding the mask loops, ties, or bands, discard the mask by placing it in a covered trash bin.
  • After removing the mask, wash your hands thoroughly or use hand sanitizer.

What is an N95?

The N95 respirators are tailored to your face size and shape. Because they fit your face more snugly, there is less chance for airborne particles to leak in around the mask's sides.

N95s may also more effectively filter out small airborne particlesTrusted Source.

The key to an effective N95 is ensuring it fits your face properly. Annually, health care practitioners who provide direct patient care are tested by a qualified professional to make sure that their N95 fits them snugly. A properly fitted N95 respirator usually filtrates pathogens in the air much better than a surgical mask. Respirators that have been carefully tested and certified to carry the N95 designation can block up to 95 percent trusted Source of tiny (0.3 microns) test particles. But they also have their limitations.

What works best to limit infection?
If you have a respiratory illness, the best way to minimize transmission is to avoid other people. The same applies if you want to avoid contracting a virus.

To reduce your risk of transmitting the virus, or coming into contact with it, the WHOTrusted Source recommends the following:
  • Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time.
  • Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol rushed Source if you don’t have access to soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your face, mouth, and eyes.
  • Keep a safe distance from others. The CDCTrusted Source recommends at least 6 feet.
  • Avoid public places until you recover fully.
  • Stay home and rest.
  • Surgical masks may protect against larger airborne particles, while N95 respirators provide better protection against smaller particles.

Putting on and taking off these face masks correctly may help protect you and the health of those around you from transmitting or contracting pathogens. Although face masks may help reduce the spread of some disease-causing organisms, evidence suggests that using face masks may not always protect you or others from exposure to certain pathogens.

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