Wearing a face mask to protect oneself amid the COVID-19 pandemic is something that has become increasingly common among people who want to ensure their personal wellbeing.
The only problem is that there is a common misconception on exactly how surgical face masks are to be worn. This is an important faux pas because the only way to ensure that you protect yourself and others while wearing a face mask is to wear it correctly.
Currently, there is a popular post being shared throughout social media that attempts to explain the appropriate way to wear a surgical mask. It claims that there are two ways to wear them:
“1. Colored side out if you’re sick and do not want to spread your germs around. 2. The white side out for when you’re not sick and you want to stop any outside germs from getting in.”
After careful research, we found that this is not only incorrect information, but it is also dangerous information to spread—especially to those who might be infected with the virus. To clarify this common misconception, Jacklin Kwan wrote an article entitled “Can a surgical mask be worn two ways, and does it protect against the haze?” in an effort to help others understand how masks should be worn correctly.
In her article, she states that “surgical masks have three layers: two outer layers (one white and one coloured), and a middle layer which acts as the filter. There is only one way to wear them: with the coloured side facing outwards.”
Kwan wasn’t the only person to try and help others understand the appropriate way to wear masks. The Health Sciences Authority also chimed in on the topic and shared that the “white side of a surgical mask is an absorbent material” that helps to ease the discomfort of the humidity that is created from a person’s breathing.
As it turns out, the middle layer of the mask that falls between the white side and the coloured side is a water-repellent that helps to prevent bodily fluids like sweat, blood, or mucus from being absorbed into the mask. Understanding the difference in how the layers of a mask works is critical if the mask is to work effectively. As one might guess, wearing a mask the incorrect way can hinder the effectiveness of the mask and create further discomfort.
When wearing a surgical mask, also be sure to wash your hands prior to placing the mask on and prior to taking the mask off. Additionally, always remove your mask the same way that you put it on; using the elastic bands that encircle the ear, rather than touching the face mask itself.
Aside from the careful application, it is also imperative that you remember not to touch your mask while wearing it. Being mindful of what to do while wearing your mask is just as important as how you wear it.
Remaining steadfast in our dedication to eliminating the spread of the coronavirus is imperative to our coming out of this pandemic successfully. The more you know about the measures in which to prevent the spread of the virus the better. Just make sure that in your effort to prevent the spread of the virus that you do so correctly. Otherwise, you may just do more harm than good.