Even if you feel fine, you could have COVID-19, and wearing a mask can prevent unknowingly spreading the disease to others.
Wearing a face mask the right way reduces the risk of spreading COVID-19 isn’t as simple as it sounds.
Nurse practitioners with Norton Healthcare Prevention & Wellness explain the importance of wearing a mask, as well as the proper ways to put on, wear and remove one.
“The mask will decrease the chances of the droplets getting out if someone is coughing, sneezing, talking. Masks, whether homemade or hospital-grade, are effective in decreasing transmission,” said Julie Schmied, APRN.
Even if you feel fine, you could have COVID-19, and wearing a mask can prevent unknowingly spreading the disease to others, according to Julie.
How to wear a face mask
Masks should be worn when you know you’ll be in areas where social distancing could be a challenge. In Kentucky, masks are strongly recommended but not required. Businesses can refuse service to a customer who isn’t wearing one.
Things to keep handy on the go
- Face mask
- Hand sanitizer
- Paper bag
How to put on a face mask
Apply hand sanitizer or wash your hands.
Pick up your mask by the ear straps or loops.
Put the mask loops around your ears or, if it ties, one knot should be high on the back of your head and the other at the bottom of your head near your neck.
Mold the nose piece (if your mask has one) around the bridge of your nose. Be sure to get as close of a seal as possible.
Pull the bottom part of the mask below your chin.
“If you do have to adjust your mask, you want to sanitize your hands, and then you can try to adjust it with the ear loops first,” said Jasmine Cowherd, APRN. “But, if you absolutely have to touch it, just kind of pull it up a little bit. Don’t touch the front of the mask. And then you want to make sure you clean your hands afterward.”
How to take off a face mask
- Before you touch the ear loops or ties, use sanitizer or wash your hands.
- Untie the strings or pull on both ear loops at the same time, pulling the mask by the strings/loops straight away from your face.
- Without touching the front of the mask, place it in a paper bag or another container that doesn’t seal.
- Once the mask if in the paper bag, sanitize or wash your hands again.
Your mask should not be stored in a sealed plastic bag because it creates an opportunity for germs to collect and grow inside bag, according to Jasmine.
“Sometimes, you might have a little wetness inside of your mask, which that’s perfectly normal,” Jasmine said. “That’s why it’s so important to wear the mask, because you realize how much those droplets actually get out.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not have a recommendation for how often someone should wash a cloth mask.
“I personally would wash it daily,” Jasmine said, adding that wearing a mask is not a replacement for social distancing.