How To Correctly Wear, Remove And Dispose Of Your Mask
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Proper Mask Usage — What You Need To Know
Not surprisingly, there has been more misleading information circulating around on how to wear medical surgical masks.
Many have been told the correct way to wear a mask is purportedly with the coloured side facing outside if you’re sick and the white side outside if you want to “stop the germs from getting in”.
This has been discredited by Medical Mythbusters Malaysia, an NGO that works to counter myths and inaccurate facts on medical matters.
It is common knowledge that surgical masks are usually worn by healthcare professionals to prevent infections transmitted by respiratory droplets. (Read: When should you use a mask?)
The medical mask typically consists of 3 layers. The outer layer of the mask is the hydrophobic or is a fluid-repelling layer, the middle layer is to filter bacteria while the inner layer is to absorb moisture, as the air we breathe out contains moisture.
The function of the blue/green layer (which is the outer layer) is to prevent germs from sticking to it. If you wear the mask the other way, the moisture from the air will stick onto it, making it easier for germs to stay there. When you breathe in, the germs will transfer from the outside layer and straight into your lungs.
So what is the correct way to wear and dispose of masks?
If you decided to wear a medical surgical masks which are pleated and flat as shown above, here’s a guide by Christine Francis, Consultant from Infection Prevention and Control:
- Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- To wear it correctly, make sure the blue/green layer of the mask faces outward. Locate the metal strip at the top of the mask, placed over your nose bridge. Secure the elastics around your ears or tie the string behind your head. Make sure it covers your nose, mouth and chin.
- While in use, do not touch the front of your mask. If you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- To remove the mask; remove it from behind. Do not touch the front of the mask as it may be contaminated.
- Discard immediately in a closed bin
- Cleanse your hands with alcohol hand sanitizers or soap and water
*If your mask becomes damp or humid, replace with the dry mask
*Never reuse single-use masks and discard them immediately into closed bin after each use
It is important that you wear and discard the mask correctly otherwise instead of protecting you, the masks become a source of infections because of the germs that may stay on it.