What you need to know about face masks
Should we wear a mask when we venture out from our houses? According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – yes. But we need to make sure we’re using face masks correctly. Infectious disease expert Mark Call, MD, explained why and offered some tips.
“This recommendation is to prevent people who aren’t yet showing symptoms from spreading the virus,” said Dr. Call. “The mask can protect you from infectious droplets if someone coughs or sneezes, but it is only part of your protection. Good hand hygiene and avoiding touching your face, particularly your eyes, nose and mouth are also vital.”
How to wear a face mask or covering
According to the CDC, face masks should:
- Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
- Be secured with ties or ear loops
- Include multiple layers of fabric
- Allow for breathing without restriction
- Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape
Things you should NOT do:
- Use a face mask on children under two years old
- Use surgical masks or other PPE intended for healthcare workers
Avoid touching the mask
It’s natural to want to touch the mask, but Dr. Call said it’s important to be very careful.
“We have to treat the front of the mask almost like it’s a hot pan. You don’t want to touch the front of the mask. If somebody has coughed on the mask and you start rubbing the mask and then rubbing your eyes, you could inoculate yourself with the organism. So while the masks are good for certain reasons, if they’re not used appropriately they can be a risk factor in and of themselves,” he said.
If you have to touch your mask or take it off, wash your hands immediately before and after touching the mask.
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