The Proper Way to Wear a Face Mask for COVID-19 Protection

Written by Dr. Veena Madhankumar and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team

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Wearing a surgical face mask properly can protect others from getting infected if you are exhibiting symptoms of cold, flu, or other respiratory infections, including COVID-19 (coronavirus infection). But remember, this protection can only be achieved if you follow infection prevention precautions while wearing and taking off the mask.

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How to Properly Wear a Face Mask?

Follow these instructions if you choose to wear a mask:

1) Disinfect your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water before touching the mask.

2) Pick up your mask and inspect for tears or holes.

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3) Hold the mask with the metal nose strip at the top.

4) The colored side of the mask should face outwards.

5) Pinch the metal nose strip to the shape of your nose while placing the mask on your face.

6) Secure the mask by placing the mask’s ear loops over each ear. If the mask has ties, then tie the upper strings first, then the lower strings behind your head.

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7) Cover your mouth and chin properly by pulling down the mask’s bottom.

8) Avoid touching the mask while wearing it for protection.

9) While taking off the mask, first wash your hands, then remove the elastic loops from your ears or untie the strings. Please do not touch the outer or inner contaminated surface while taking the mask off, and throw it in a closed bin immediately.

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10) Never reuse a surgical mask.

11) Perform hand hygiene again after discarding the mask.

Use both surgical and N95 masks only if you have symptoms of respiratory illness. As there is a global shortage of these masks, they should be reserved for healthcare workers as much as possible.

The CDC recommends wearing cloth face masks while going to crowded places where social distancing cannot be maintained, to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. Follow the same steps while using cloth face covers, but instead of throwing them away, wash it in warm water regularly, and avoid sharing them.

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Cloth masks are less effective than other more effective ways to prevent COVID-19, which are frequently washing your hands, coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your elbow, and maintaining 1-meter distance from others.

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