It is currently the subject of heated controversy whether or not people should wear masks in public. Many of us in the medical industry has been accustomed to wearing masks outside of work because they are a standard component of our uniforms, and they now come in a wider variety of styles and colors.
Still, for many of us, utilizing masks on a regular basis is a new experience. As a result of the pandemic, we've been forced to wear masks nearly every time we leave our homes.
Here are a few pointers to help you get your family, friends, patients, and the rest of your community up to speed on the proper way to utilize masks in the wake of such a significant shift.
Are You Wearing The Mask Properly?
As a medical professional, you may be used to wearing masks on a regular basis. For those of us who aren't used to wearing masks on a regular basis, there are a slew of bad habits and practices we could develop.
The process of applying and removing face masks
Infection prevention and conventional precautions are both heavily influenced by the cleanliness of one's hands. Before and after putting on or taking off a face mask, wash or sterilize your hands appropriately.
To remove the mask, first, wash your hands well before removing it. Check to see that you aren't getting your hands on the ties too much.
Reapply hand hygiene techniques after the mask has been removed and is either thrown away or safely stored. Your hands could have come into contact with whatever was on the mask when you took it off.
The Art of Wearing a Mask Correctly
Wearing a mask for 8-12 hours a day may cause irritation or make you feel as if you're not getting enough air. If the mask is hanging from our chin or neck, we may be tempted to pull it down from our noses.
When we adjust our masks in this way, we're taking a number of risks. To begin, many people are tempted to pull the mask down by gripping the mask someplace on the main body or by using the front of the mask (not on the ties or elastics). Your hands and the lower half of your face could be infected, and the mask itself could be contaminated with whatever is on your face or neck.
It also exposes your lips and nose to the elements. You're now breathing out and contaminating the surrounding air with any virus or germs that might be in your airways because the mask is no longer protecting you.
If you must remove the mask, employ adequate hand hygiene and only do so in a socially isolated area, such as a break room or restroom.
Wearing and Disposing of Masks
As previously stated, once a mask has been worn, it should be treated as potentially contaminated. As if you had just completed an operation in or around a potentially infectious source, you wouldn't take those gloves off and put them in your pocket or purse because it may distribute the infectious material to anything it touches, which you or another person are likely to contact and spread.
The same holds true for your face mask. Be sure to wear a mask even if you cannot see any viruses or germs on the mask's surface. Your facility's protocols for storing used masks for re-use are likely to be different. For instance, you might be instructed to place them in a single-use bag.
You can use the same logic when you're not at work and are out in public with personal masks. If you don't want to be infected, don't place your used mask in your bag or pocket or anywhere else. Upon removal, either store it in a disposable bag that you discard later, or fold the outside corners together and place it in either the washing machine (for reusable masks) or the rubbish (for disposable masks) (for disposable masks).
When used properly, masks can be a powerful tool in the fight against the spread of disease. Protecting our communities from the transmission of disease requires that we all make an effort to appropriately utilize our face masks.