By Dr. Amanda Novack, Baptist Health Medical Director for Infection Prevention
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending face coverings in any public setting where social distancing can be difficult to maintain.
When used properly, masks help reduce the spread of respiratory infections by covering the surfaces in the mouth and nose where the coronavirus is most likely to be transmitted. Masks also help prevent the spread of droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
But when used improperly, masks can become contaminated and actually hold germs close to the places we are trying to protect.
Here are some helpful tips to make sure you are maximizing the protection of your mask.
- First, whenever possible, wash your hands before you touch the mask. Carrying a small bottle of hand sanitizer can help you do this when you are moving around town.
- Next, try not to touch the part of the mask that fits snuggly around the face. Rather, hold the mask by the ear loops or ties depending on what kind of mask you are using.
- For a mask with ties, bring the top ties to the crown of the head and secure with a bow. Then tie the bottom ties securely at the back of the neck.
- For an ear-loop mask, place the loops one at a time.
- To remove a tie mask, hold your head forward and untie the bow at the neck followed by the ties at the crown of the head, being careful to only handle the ties themselves.
- To remove an ear-loop mask, lean forward and remove one loop, pulling the mask away from the face, and then remove the other.
- If you are using a cloth mask, you can reuse it, but it should be laundered on a regular basis.
- If you are using a disposable mask, it should be discarded quickly after removal. And always wash your hands again after removing a face mask.
These are some key mistakes to avoid when wearing masks:
- DON’T wear if wet or soiled — get a new mask.
- DON’T crisscross ties.
- DON’T leave a mask hanging off one ear or hanging around neck.
- DON’T reuse a soiled mask until it has been laundered.