Top Four Tips On How To Wear A Surgical Mask
Do you think you might be infected with COVID-19 or have any symptoms, or are you taking care of someone who became infected with COVID-19? On top of the best practices to try and reduce the chances of you passing on or becoming sick, you should be wearing a surgical mask should you absolutely need to leave your home. Note: wearing a surgical mask is in no way a guarantee you will not become infected or pass it onto someone, but it might reduce the chances of spreading COVID-19. Ideally, you should not leave your home.
Please avoid wearing surgical masks if you are not feeling sick or not in direct contact with COVID-19-infected people. Surgical masks are in short supply and should be reserved for medical professionals and essential personnel.
This article focuses on surgical masks. We have made another list of tips for those wishing to wear non-surgical or alternative types of masks. If you are not displaying any symptoms and are not in direct contact with COVID-19 cases, our Concierge Doctors thinks you should be wearing non-surgical grade or alternative masks.
Surgical masks are not a perfect barrier against infection. They need to be used with the utmost care to avoid putting you and others at risk. Please follow the steps below to make good use of them and minimise risks.
PUT ON Your Surgical Mask Correctly
- Hand hygiene before putting on the mask is ESSENTIAL. Before grabbing the mask perform hand hygiene. You want to avoid contaminating the mask at all costs as this will sit close to your mouth and nose (this is particularly valid if you are a carer, to minimise risk to the person you are caring for).
- Determine which way the mask should be worn.
- The white side should be worn inwards (directly against your face), whilst the coloured side should face outwards
- At the top should be the thicker white lining that contains a metallic strip
- Grab the elastic loops, and place around each ear, making sure the top of the mask sits above the tip of your nose.
- Remember to not touch anything other than the mask whilst you are placing it. If you do, perform hand hygiene.
- With one hand, mould the metallic strip over your nose bridge tightly
- Using the other hand, grab the bottom lining of the mask and extend the face mask downwards to fully cover the chin. The pleats will now be in their extended position.
- Ensure the mask fits tightly over the middle bottom part of your face. Remember, the goal is to not touch the protective part of the mask moving on, so make sure it’s well adjusted.
- Perform hand hygiene (in case the mask is already contaminated, especially if you are sick)
READJUST Your Surgical Mask Correctly
Sometimes, especially if you need to talk, you need to reposition your face mask. Here are the essential steps:
- Perform hand hygiene (to avoid contaminating the mask if it isn’t already)
- Reposition the mask as required
- Perform hand hygiene (the mask might already be contaminated and you want to avoid contaminating other surfaces)
REMOVE Your Surgical Mask Correctly
- Perform hand hygiene. You want to avoid contaminating your hair or ears
- Grab the mask by the elastic loops or ties and discard the mask immediately. It is paramount to make sure the mask goes in a safely secured bin to avoid contaminating surfaces that might be touched by yourself or others
- Perform hand hygiene
- Avoid touching the protective section of the mask, be it inside or outside as much as possible
- Never bring the top of your mask under your chin and then reposition above your nose. You might be tempted to do that when talking or eating. Remember the front of the mask is highly likely to be contaminated. By bringing the mask under your chin, you expose your mouth and nose directly to breathing what is on the front of the mask, doing exactly what the mask was supposed to prevent. Get used to talking in a mask. If you need to eat, the only choice is to change face masks
- Never leave your used mask on surfaces (tables, benches, etc…)
- Never touch your used mask other than by the tying sections (elastic loops for example)
Make sure to check this video from Hong Kong, which will take you through all these essential steps. Hong Kong has had a generally favourable perception of face masks by its population.
Think that you might be sick and do not have a surgical mask at hand? Have some concerns regarding the current situation and would like to talk about it with medical professionals? Book in for a telehealth consult in less than a minute and speak with a qualified Australian doctor who can help answer your questions.