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Dos and Don’ts of Mask Wearing

Published in Infectious Diseases, For the Health of It Author: Rebecca Stepan, MD, CentraCare – Sauk Centre Family Medicine

You’ve heard that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing masks in public and when around people who don’t live in your household. You may not know the following safety tips.

Wear Your Mask Correctly

  • Wash your hands before putting on your mask.
  • Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.
  • Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face.
  • Make sure you can breathe easily.
  • The CDC does not recommend use of masks if they have an exhalation valve or vent.

Don’t Touch Your Mask

If you do need to touch or adjust your mask, perform hand hygiene (wash hands or use hand sanitizer) before and after touching or adjusting your mask. Remember, hand hygiene is one of the most important protective measures.

Take Off Your Mask Carefully

  • Untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops.
  • Handle only by the ear loops or ties.
  • Bring the ear loops or ties together so the mask is folded in half so only the outside of the mask is exposed.
  • Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth while removing your mask.
  • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer immediately after removing your mask.

If you need to take your mask off to eat or drink, place it into a clean, breathable container such as a paper bag. A new paper bag should be used each time. If a paper bag is unavailable, use a clean paper towel. Do not place your mask directly on a tabletop or counter.

How to Wash Your Mask

  • Wash your mask daily.
  • You can include your mask with your regular laundry.
  • Use regular laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate water setting for the cloth used to make the mask.

How to Dry Your Mask

  • In the dryer, use the highest appropriate heat setting for the cloth used to make the mask.and leave it in the dryer until completely dry.
  • To air dry, lay flat and allow to completely dry. If possible, place the mask in direct sunlight.

Protect Yourself and Others

  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth to help protect others in case you’re infected with COVID-19 but don’t have symptoms.
  • Don’t put the mask around your neck or up on your forehead.
  • Stay at least six feet away from others.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer.

You may see people wearing a face shield instead of mask. A face shield is primarily used for eye protection for the person wearing it. At this time, it is not known what level of protection a face shield provides from the spray of respiratory droplets from the wearer. Therefore, the CDC does not currently recommend use of face shields as a substitute for masks.

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