With COVID-19 cases on the rise, it’s more important than ever to protect yourself and your family. One of the most effective ways to do this is by using a protective face covering – even if you think you’re healthy. The medical experts have told us that wearing a mask plays a critical role in reducing the spread of COVID-19 by containing the small droplets that come out of your mouth and/or nose when you speak, cough, or sneeze.
There are different styles, types, and colors of masks to choose from, but no matter what kind you choose, it’s important to know the right way to wear it, sanitize it, and dispose of it. Wearing a mask improperly, such as not having it fully covering your nose and mouth, can reduce its effectiveness. And every time you touch your mask, it becomes contaminated, so avoid touching it as much as possible – especially the front part covering your face.
Follow these tips and tricks to make sure you’re using your mask in a way that will provide the utmost protection for yourself and others:
- Before touching your mask, make sure to either wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds or sanitize them with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Pick up your mask by the ear loops (or whichever closure devices your style of mask has on the sides), not by the part that will fit over your nose and mouth.
- Loop an earpiece over one ear and stretch the mask to the other ear, looping the other earpiece around the other ear.
- While avoiding touching the front of the mask as much as possible, make sure you have full coverage from the top of the bridge of your nose all the way down underneath your chin. Keep your nose and mouth completely covered while you are wearing your mask.
- If your mask has ear loops, tighten them around your ears as much as is comfortably possible.
- Remove your mask by touching the sides/ear loops or the back – avoid touching the front.
- If you’re wearing a single-use mask, do not reuse it. Remove it immediately after use and place it in the nearest closed trash receptacle.
- If you have a cloth or reusable mask, sanitize it immediately after taking it off. You can wash many of these types of masks in a washing machine, but the most effective way to eliminate bacterial contamination is by liberally spraying your mask down with 70% isopropyl alcohol.
As we continue to navigate through this unprecedented time, it is crucial to protect yourself and others. For updates and current information about COVID-19, please visit capitalhealth.com/news/novel-coronavirus-covid-19.
Medical Notes: Be advised that it is not recommended for an infant or a child aged 2 or under to wear a face covering.
If you have a preexisting respiratory condition, a mask such as the N-95 might not be the right one for you. According to the American Lung Association, there is some evidence that prolonged use of N-95 masks in patients with preexisting lung disease could cause some build-up of carbon dioxide levels in the body. If this applies to you, check with your health care provider before choosing a mask that is right for you.