The COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet. Every few months we’re seeing new variants pop up. In order to keep yourself protected, mask-wearing is an extremely simple and easy task that is very beneficial. Doing so can help to lift some pressure off our healthcare workers. If you have any unanswered questions about medical masks and facemasks and their benefits, this article is for you.
What does a face mask do and why should you wear one?
By now everyone knows that COVID-19 infects the lungs and is a respiratory virus. The virus can be spread through droplets in the air, especially when someone infected coughs, sneezes, breathes, or even sings. COVID-19 is most commonly spread between people who are standing close to each other. As such it is important to do mask-wearing and social distancing in tandem with each other.
How effective are face masks? What face masks do is prevent these droplets of water from entering your system, keeping you protected. This works as the filters within the face masks keep those droplets and viruses out. Wearing a fitted mask is so important, in order to prevent your own droplets from infecting others as well.
How to wear a mask
Before putting on a mask, make sure your hands are clean. Depending on the type of mask you are wearing, you could either tie it behind your head or loop it over your ears. You will need to make sure the mask you are wearing is snug, in order to get the maximum protection it offers. After touching the mask, make sure you wash your hands as you might be getting germs on your hands without even knowing.
Picking the best masks for COVID-19 protection
There is a range of masks that you can use to protect yourself from COVID-19, but among them, some should be reserved for healthcare workers as they offer a higher level of protection in the event of a supply crunch. However, if the supply is sufficient, you have a range of masks you can choose from. For average people, cloth masks and surgical masks are sufficient.
DIY your own cloth mask
Instead of buying masks continuously, you can also opt to make your own mask at home. Cloth face masks are commonly used. While they offer less protection compared to surgical, and medical masks, it is still sufficient for the average joe. To make a cloth mask you first have to pick out the fabric of your choice, preferably cotton. It should be opaque but still breathable. The best type of cloth mask should have at least three layers of fabric to filter out any germs through droplets. Cloth masks can be tailored to fit the size and contours of your face – make sure that the mask you make fulfills these criteria.
As cloth masks are non-disposable, you will be required to wash your mask after each wash. Most fabric masks can be washed together with your other dirty clothes in the laundry. You can use a mesh bag too to prevent tangling with other items. For hand washing, you can first rinse your mask with running water before rinsing it with soap and detergent, make sure all soap has been cleaned out before laying it to dry under the sun. Dry your mask thoroughly where temperatures are high – either in the dryer or under the hot sun. This allows all germs and bacteria to be killed.
Common Mask Issues
When wearing masks, you might face common issues that can be easily fixed. Here are some quick fixes for issues that mask wearers may commonly face:
When your glasses are misty, this means that there are gaps between your mask and your glasses, allowing warm air exiting your system to condense with the cooler surface of your glasses. To prevent this, a wire fit on your mask can be inserted to ensure that your mask is first snugly on your nose. Pinch it to make sure that it follows the contours of your nose. You can also wash and dry your glasses in order to prevent frequent fogging.
As masks restrict breathing, they should only be worn when doing light exercise. There are also alternatives carried by sports brands that you can use as they are more breathable, but do note that these may be limited in their protective abilities. Do keep an extra mask with you in case you’ve soiled your first with sweat and do need a change. When outdoors, remember to social distance if you are not wearing a mask.
Who should be wearing a mask?
Masks may be a choking hazard for young kids, thus anyone over the age of two can wear a mask. Also, unless having severe respiratory issues or suggested by a healthcare provider, all members of the public should wear one.
Can a face shield replace a mask?
Face shields have limited protective ability. There are large gaps all around the shield and should not be used as a substitute for a mask. Instead, face shields should be used in tandem with face masks, which can act as the first line of defense in environments that are high risk. E.g healthcare, swabbing staff.
When should face masks be worn?
As anyone can carry the virus, it is recommended that face masks be worn when you are not around a member of your household. This allows you to personally stay protected and also keep your loved ones protected. Face masks should also ideally be changed and discarded after every use unless it’s a cloth mask which then should be washed after each use.
In general, masks are very important protective equipment when dealing with COVID-19. It’s been several years but the virus is still around and variants are continuing to emerge. In order to keep yourself and your family members safe, masks should be worn ideally at all times. There are many different masks that can be used, depending on your own personal preference.