How to Wear a Face Mask to Prevent the Spread of Infection

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Along with social distancing, wearing a face mask when in close proximity to others is one of the easiest tactics we can adopt as a society to help slow the transmission of COVID-19.

While there was some confusion early in the pandemic, both the CDC and the WHO now recommend that people wear a face mask when in public or around others.

Why Should You Wear a Face Mask?

It's important to wear a face mask even if you aren't displaying clear symptoms of COVID-19. It is now known that many people infected with the virus don't display symptoms, leading to what's referred to as asymptomatic transmission.

If not worn properly, though, masks can have reduced effectiveness – or little effect at all. So iHealth has put together this step-by-step guide to make sure you know how to properly wear and dispose of your face mask.

How to Properly Wear, Remove, and Dispose of a Face Mask

Step 1: Clean your hands

Before touching the mask or applying it to your face, it's important to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water to reduce the likelihood of contaminating the mask before you've even put it on.

If you're in a situation where you cannot easily access soap and water, alcohol-based hand sanitizer is the next best thing. Make sure you use enough hand sanitizer to cover the entire surface of the tops and palms of your hands.

Step 2: Apply the mask to your face – and don't touch it!

Once you've cleaned your hands, it's time to put the mask on. Most masks – such as iHealth's disposable ear loop face masks, KN95 masks, and surgical-quality face masks – have an elastic ear loop that makes putting your mask on quick and easy.

If you're using a KN95 mask, it will only be as effective as the fit. It must make contact with your nose and face with no gaps between. While other styles of mask can't match the KN95's level of performance, they are still more effective at slowing the spread of airborne viruses than no mask at all.

The key with non-KN95 masks is to ensure both your nose and mouth are covered.

Step 3: Replace your disposable face mask regularly

Once face masks become damp – whether due to exhaled moisture from your breath or external factors such as rain or humidity – they become less effective at filtering out bacteria and viruses. Damp masks are also more difficult to breathe through.

If you are using disposable face masks, you should throw your mask away once it becomes damp and put on a new one. You should not reuse single-use masks.

Best practice for reusable masks is to wash and completely dry them in a dryer or air dry in direct sunlight after each use. Masks that remain damp for an extended period of time are breeding grounds for mold - and you don't want mold spores getting into your lungs!

Step 4: Remove the mask safely

When removing your face mask, it's important that you not touch the front of it – this is the part that acts as a filter, so any contaminants present will likely transfer to your hands.

The best way to remove a mask is from behind; typically, this means removing a mask while holding onto the elastic bands that secure it to your head or ears.

Once you have safely removed the mask, place it in a trash can and immediately wash your hands thoroughly again with soap and water. If you are not able to use soap and water, alcohol-based hand sanitizer will suffice.

Running Low on Masks? IHealth Has Them in Stock.

Masks are required in many locations now, so it's a good idea to have an ample supply on hand. IHealth carries several varieties of affordable face masks, including:

Don't wait until you've run out of masks to reorder – stock up today!

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