COVID-19 has everyone rushing to buy face masks, and the prices of face masks have shot up because of the skyrocketing demand. Now the question, is face mask effective against COVID-19? If yes, how should one use it?
Here is a brief guideline on selecting and using face masks effectively.
What is a face mask?
Face masks are loose-fitting covers that are worn on the face to cover the nose and mouth. They are held in place using the ear loops or are tied at the back of the head with bands. These masks prevent the germs from spreading and thus limit the chances of the wearer
getting infected with airborne communicable diseases.
Face masks offer a 2-way protection against COVID-19 by protecting the wearer and also
the people nearby.
People infected with COVID-19 can remain asymptomatic for two weeks but still spread the disease through their respiratory droplets. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they inadvertently release droplets that might carry germs.
Face masks have gained importance in this situation as it can:
● Reduce the droplets we exhale while speaking, sneezing, or coughing. It is an effective barrier to reduce the number of germs that are released into the air.
● Limit our chances of inhaling the virus from others
While searching for face masks, you might come across three types of face masks- homemade face masks, surgical masks, and N95 respirator.
Surgical mask and N95 respirators are most effective, but are becoming scarce in supply. Homemade face masks are also helpful for lowering the risk of transmission of COVID -19. It is more recommended for the use of the general public as these have an unlimited supply.
But, should we always use face masks?
World Health Organization says, no. Healthy individuals need not use face masks always. Besides, the masks are effective only when used alongside practicing good hand hygiene and social distancing.
Let’s understand what WHO has to say on wearing the face mask, with special reference to
the current situation of COVID-19.
- Wear the mask if you feel unwell with symptoms of a cold, especially cough or sneeze.
- If you are healthy, do not use the mask whenever you go out. Wear it only if you are near a person with symptoms of a cold or a COVID-19 person.
- Health care professionals who are taking care of COVID-19 patients (suspected or confirmed) must wear the face mask.
CDC recommends that you should wear a face mask in situations where you cannot keep a 6 feet distance from others. Chances of community transmission are high in settings like grocery stores and such situations require the use of face masks.
Children below 2 years or people who cannot remove the mask by themselves should not use a face mask. Apart from this, people who have breathing trouble are also advised not to use face masks.
How to choose the right face mask?
One can find varieties of face masks manufactured by several brands. But any random mask might not be sufficient to protect you from COVID-19. Before you buy a face mask check for its certification. You must use only the face masks that are approved by the FDA.
A good face mask that can provide effective protection against the microbes must –
● Fit snugly at the sides of the face
● Have ear loops or band to secure it in place
● Have multiple layers
● Allow breathing without any restrictions
Also, ensure that your face mask is washable by hand or machine.
How to use the face mask?
Here is a complete set of instructions to guide you on using face masks safely. We have given you detailed steps to follow while putting on and removing the mask and also the care you should maintain during usage.
- Before you put on the mask, ensure that your hands are clean. Use a hand sanitizer or soap to wash your hands.
- Check the mask for any obvious holes or tears on either side.
- Examine the mask and identify which side is the top. The top side will have a stiff, bendable edge.
- The mask might have an ear loop, band, or ties. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to wear the mask.
- The mask should cover your mouth, chin, and nose. It should fit snugly, leaving no space between the mask and the face.
- Do not touch the mask while wearing it. If you happen to touch it, clean your hands using hand sanitizer or soap.
- If your mask becomes wet or damp, replace it immediately.
- Disposable face masks should not be reused. Please throw it into the trash after a single-use.
- While removing the mask, avoid touching the front portion. Always remove the mask from behind.
- Clean your hands with hand sanitizer or soap after removing the face mask.
- Homemade cloth masks should be washed after each use with soap and warm water.
Before resorting to panic buying, we need to keep in mind that that face mask are becoming scarce and are more essential to protect the health care professionals. The public should stick on to non-surgical masks and leave the N95 respirators and surgical masks to
the frontline health workers.
When you use face mask, please follow proper hand hygiene. Evidences suggest that coronavirus may last on the surface of face masks for up to 7 days. Hence, whenever you put on or remove the mask, hand hygiene is mandatory. Also avoid touching the face mask frequently, as this might lead to infection.
Coronavirus is fast spreading. So, along with masks always practice social distancing and hand hygiene.
SITCO offers high-quality face masks to help in the fight against COVID-19. We deliver FDA approved face masks in high volume according to the requirement. Our products are made from quality raw materials and pass through rigorous quality checks to ensure the total safety of the wearer. Get in touch with us to know more about our 3 Ply masks and N95 masks