MASKS! MASKS! MASKS!
Masks are now an essential part of our lives for the foreseeable future. As a nurse, I have flinched frequently at the many common practices that I have seen that nullify or diminish whatever effect we are hoping to gain from this practice. So here are a few “Do’s” and “Don’t’s.”
- DO: Wash your hands before and after using your mask.
- DO: Choose a mask that covers your nose and mouth, comfortably and completely (we all have different faces, thank you, Lord!). A good mask will also seal the gaps of your face around your nose and cheeks.
- DO: Practice talking or moving your jaw up and down to see if your mask stays in place.
- DO: Touch only the bands or the ties that secure your mask when putting it on or taking it off.
- DON’T touch the mask once you have put it on. If you need to adjust it, wash your hands afterwards. The mask you wear is considered “contaminated” or “dirty” on the outside from whatever droplets are around you.
- DON’T wear your mask under your chin if you are taking a break, as you will then have contaminated your neck, chin and hands with the outside/dirty side of your mask. Take it all the way off (touching only the bands or ties and wash your hands) or keep it on.
CHOOSING A MASK:
Masks have become almost a fashion statement. (Someone I know was sporting a Gucci mask!) Some well-made homemade masks with several layers, are adequate. But many are too small and tend to shift when the wearer talks.
Many people and children are trending toward the gaiter version of face-coverings. Even though these versions may be more comfortable for longer use, I believe the wearers will be more inclined to rest them on their necks between active wearing, and therefore neglect the need to protect themselves from the outside or contaminated side of the fabric, and perhaps allowing more direct transmission of whatever droplets are there to the wearer’s nose and mouth.
Remember the most effective masks tend to be those that do not allow much airflow, as the purpose is to prevent airflow. (My husband was complaining that he was getting unusually fatigued when he was doing his PT in the spring. Then I discovered he had purchased some N95 type masks! Once he switched to a regular medical mask, he was able to get through his therapy sessions.) For the general public’s purposes, a mask with multiple layers is adequate.
And, of course, remember the distancing! And, wash your hands!