Top Tips on How To Wear an Alternative Face Mask

By April 14, 2020 March 21st, 2021 COVID-19
Concierge Doctors - Alternative Face Mask

As face masks have been added to the list of useful items during the COVID-19 crisis, many of us will not (and should not) have access to surgical-grade masks, which should be reserved to healthcare professionals. Instead, many of us might end up using non-surgical grade face masks, which you might have purchased online, or even crafted yourself.

These “alternative” face masks differ from surgical-grade face masks in that they are likely made of materials offering poor filtering protection, and their fit might not be ideal. Given their subpar performance, it is important to be cautious when wearing alternative face masks. Concierge Doctors have listed some tips that will help you limit the risk of infection when using said alternative face masks if you absolutely have to venture outside your home.

Note: remember that whilst we recommend wearing any sort of non-surgical grade face mask over not wearing anything, these alternative face masks do not offer any guarantee against COVID-19 infection. They are only a “better-than-nothing” option, and should not give you any sense of comfort when outside your home. You should make sure to practice stringent social distancing when wearing a mask.

Essential Tip: Avoid Touching your Face Mask

Alternative face masks should essentially be used with as great care as surgical-grade masks. Make sure to check out the main steps to properly using a surgical-grade face mask.

The most important rule is to limit how often you touch the face mask. Whenever you need to touch the face mask, make sure to perform adequate hand hygiene before AND after. You should act as if your hands carried the virus and your mask didn’t, and simultaneously as if your face mask was contaminated and your hands weren’t.

If you are unable to perform adequate hand hygiene, you should consider not touching the mask. And if you have to touch the mask, make sure to only touch the ties at the back.

PUT ON your Alternative Face Mask Correctly

  • Perform hand hygiene
  • Determine which way the face mask should be worn (if applicable, some DIY face masks can be worn both ways)
  • Grab the mask by its tying extremities (elastic loops etc…) and attach to your ears or back or your head depending on how your mask works.
  • Perform hand hygiene (you should assume the extremities of the face mask are infected)
  • Adjust the face mask over your nose and mouth. You ideally want to cover as much as possible from the middle of your nose down to below your chin
  • Perform hand hygiene (especially if you display any symptoms and somehow still need to go out and do not have a surgical-grade mask at hand)

READJUST your Alternative Face 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. If you cannot perform hand hygiene, consider keeping your mask on until you can
  • Grab the mask by the tying extremities. Do NOT touch the protective section of the mask, be it inside or outside
  • Immediately discard the alternative face mask
  • Perform hand hygiene
  • Alternatively, if this face mask is not disposable, immediately place it in a bleachable container
  • Perform hand hygiene (to avoid contaminating other surfaces after holding the face mask)
  • You then have two options: either leave the mask in the bleachable container aside for 72 hours (the virus will deactivate by then), or wash your face mask
  • If you decide to choose the washing option, wash your face mask with soap. Let it soak in soapy water, then rinse off soap and leave the face mask in the sink
  • Perform hand hygiene
  • Let the face mask dry where convenient. Ideally, in the sun, or in a dryer
  • Perform hand hygiene after touching the face mask

If you have any questions about your current situation and do not have any mask at hand, you can get in touch with Australian doctors and psychologists via our Concierge Doctors telehealth platform.