Updated: Sep 15, 2020
As Covid-19 face masks are becoming more commonplace, people want to know the best way to wear them.
With the help of a medical professional, Euronews recently addressed some essential questions about wearing a face mask. Nurse educator Jade Flinn from Johns Hopkins Biocontainment Unit revealed common misconceptions about protective masks and gave specific tips for protecting yourself in public.
What is the best type of face mask?
“The purpose of the mask is to contain droplets that are produced by either our nose or mouth when speaking so that they don’t spread into the environment,” Flinn said.
What about the material? The mask should not be knitted or made from a fabric with a loose stitch. At the same time, the fabric has to be breathable.
While surgical masks are highly effective, they are most needed by healthcare workers who are on the front lines of the pandemic. It’s best to choose a fabric mask made of more than one layer. This will make it more effective than most disposable paper masks.
An easy way to check if the mask has at least a basic level of protection is to try to blow out a candle while wearing it.
Plastic shields or visors will not sufficiently contain the droplets of the wearer, so they should only be used in combination with a face mask.
What is the right way to put the mask on?
Face coverings protect the person wearing them but also the people around them. It’s essential to wear your mask properly and cover your nose with it.
It’s fine to adjust the ties of the mask or twist them around the ears to make it tighter, so long as it is doing a good job of covering the nose and mouth, according to Flinn.
Source of visual: Euronews
Before putting on the mask, the wearer needs to wash or disinfect their hands. Otherwise, there is a risk of transferring bacteria from the hands to the mask. Only use the loops or ties of the mask to put it on.
How should you wear your mask if you have a beard or wear glasses?
People with facial hair should be even more careful to avoid touching their face than most individuals.
“People with beards have a disadvantage as they have something that is not covered on their face, so I recommend these people are extra thorough when washing and that they clean their facial hair regularly,” Flinn advised for Euronews.
As for those wearing glasses, the solution for foggy spectacles is a well-fitting mask. Flinn also shared some insider tips from the healthcare industry, such as spraying an anti-mist solution on the glasses or using lip balm to help the top of the mask create a better seal with the wearer’s face.
Can face masks be reused?
When trying to decide whether to throw away or wash the face mask, people should ask themselves how long they wore it. When wearing it for a long duration at work or around a lot of people, it’s time to replace it with a new one.
“When using a mask for long periods of time, a lot of moisture can build up on them, so it’s important to air them out regularly, making sure you have another clean one to cover your mouth and nose,” she added.
Disposable masks can be reused if they are well cared for, by keeping them in a clean bag and letting them air.
Avoid moving the face covering to the forehead or chin as this may move all the bacteria around other parts of the face. Instead, when taking a sip of tea or coffee, for example, people should take their mask off completely and put it into a clean bag, which would allow ventilation.