Masks have widespread use in many countries. In fact, in some, such as in Spain, they have become mandatory in enclosed spaces, such as shops, and in open spaces where the safety distance cannot be maintained, such as in narrow sidewalks and parks. One of the keys to the effectiveness of masks is to be well informed about them and to know how to use them properly. A wet, dirty or contaminated mask can give the feeling of false security, which poses a double risk. Proper use requires, in short, that we know what they really are for, how to wash masks and where to store them. This is our complete guide to the usefulness, use and proper care of masks.
- Usefulness of masks
- How to use masks correctly
- How to choose the right face mask
- How to clean masks and preserve them
The usefulness of masks
There are many reasons why masks are worth wearing as individual protection and an act of social responsibility. Its benefits have been studied and endorsed as a way to prevent the spread of diseases, especially the new coronavirus.
Why are masks useful?
It is worth remembering the fact that, the newer a virus, the more unknown it is to our immune system. Although we do not know many things about COVID-19, it is clear that its transmission to human beings is recent, so we are more unprotected than against other viruses.
Our exposure or protection in the form of a vaccine means that we consider other virological threats differently, as is the case with the well-known common flu. The virus is not only new to us: it is also new to medical personnel and workers close to the hospital environment, who are facing a new scenario for which their systems have not fully developed their immune potential.
On the other hand, other viruses, such as seasonal influenza, occur relatively stable and staggered over a long period of time. As we have seen, this is not the case for all infectious diseases. In the case of coronavirus, the spread is rapid. It is difficult to predict and anticipate it.
In addition to all of the above, we have a multitude of asymptomatic carriers, who do not experience the effects of the disease and therefore do not go through the recommended isolation. This possibility is undoubtedly one of the great reasons to wear mask. Anyone could be a carrier of the disease. But practically everyone can protect others with the use of masks.
How masks actually work
Although the degree of protection can vary greatly among models, types and use, the good news is that masks are effective in stopping or catching droplets that are ejected when you sneeze, talk or cough. Studies have been conducted in which subjects had to expel air into a funnel with different types of mask and without it.
If the subjects wearing masks expelled air into the funnel, the sample included aerosols and droplets in almost a third of the cases. Did patients with masks transmit fewer viruses? Actually, yes. A lot of her droplets and sprays did not go through the masks.
How a mask protects you
Masks, of any kind, are useful in protecting others. As for the protection for the mask wearer, this will depend on factors such as the fit, material and type.
The general population can do a great job wearing hygienic masks and with social distancing and hand washing. In addition, some fabrics, as we treated in previous articles, are especially efficient when it comes to filtering particles, which will increase the protection of the wearer.
In addition to protecting, a mask sets an example for society and encourages the normalization of its use, which makes more and more people take sanitary precautions.
As a result, different countries can be better prepared to deal with this type of health crisis. The best example is Asia, which has states in which the use of masks has never been alien to society. It's simple to understand. The more you wear a garment, the more you accept the use of it, and this is what happens with the use of masks.
Conversely, unrecommended practices receive more attention. For example, the avoidable cough of a person without a mask. Or an individual who knows he has symptoms but decides not to use masks. Over time, these gestures are perceived as a lack of respect, which contributes to prevention in the general public.
How to use masks correctly
Before proceeding with the care of masks, let's remember how to use them.
Putting and removing masks
It is imperative that you follow these guidelines:
- Hand washing
- Avoid touching everything except the loops and the metal clip if any.
3.Touch only elastics bands or ear loops
- Make sure it covers nose and chin. At the top, the mask should be placed near the beginning of your nose, without covering the visibility.
How to avoid misusing a mask
Touching the mask involves risks similar to touching the face: bringing unwanted germs to viral pathways such as the mouth or nose.
Perhaps the most serious threat of this is the feeling that you are protected simply by wearing a mask. It is essential to remember that more protection should not be translated into less caution. If we forget the to keep the distance and the washing of hands in exchange for masks, we will be very counterproductive. In other words, take your mask and keep protecting yourself. No mask alone would be able to prevent transmission
Is it necessary to wear mask in public spaces?
First of all, we must remember that this guide is indicative. We recommend to follow at all times the rules and regulations of the relevant health agencies in each country. Our advice is that masks are beneficial in public spaces simply because we don't know who transmits the virus or is infected (including us). That is why it is an act of responsibility to wear them.
Can I wear a mask if I exercise? Should I wear a mask while running?
Again, this is just our personal advice. Experts seem to agree that both practices are safe, so the mask in this case is optional. On the other hand, it has also been suggested that the lack of research on how the air is ejected during the exercise calls for caution and maintaining the safety distance of two meters. If you want a good reading on the subject, you can take a look at this article by Gretchen Reynolds.
How to help children get used to masks?
For children over 2-3 years old the masks are safe for use. However, learning how to use them can be complicated. At first they can be annoying and it is difficult to show their value to children. The most recommended solutions are to lead by example and to choose masks that they really want to wear because the like them. A good method is to choose it with your kids and reward its use. If at some point they completely refuse their use, special caution should be exercised in social distance. At the same time, parents should pay attention so that children normalize masks without developing fear of them.
Is it necessary to wear mask inside a house?
At home, it will only be necessary to use masks if there is a person infected in the apartment. However, if this is the case the use of a face mask will not be enough. The infected person should be isolated in a separate room and avoid contact with people and pets as much as possible. Ideally, this includes having a separate bathroom. Patient and caregivers should wear, in any case, masks. It is recommended to consult with a doctor the most suitable type of mask for a sick person.
How to choose the right face mask
You've probably noticed that there are an important variety of masks available in online stores and retailers. It is important to think about the right type.
It is important to remember that the general population must use hygienic or surgical masks, since those of individual protection or PPE are reserved for professionals and contexts of particular risk. Cloth masks are considered hygienic masks and are very popular due to their washing and reuse possibilities.
You can tell yourself in detail about this in our article about the types of masks. We would like to remind you once again that the general population's collection of medical supplies can result in shortages for sanitary workers who really need it, so we encourage people to purchase responsibly.
Is there a way to know if some fabric is appropriate for a face masks?
Opaque fabrics tend to be more effective: if the strands are close together, the fabric will be denser, and therefore its filtration power will be more effective. At the same time, make sure your mask allows you to breathe normally. If the fabric is thin, a double layer is your best bet.
Finally, a mask made according to official recommendations or certified will offer you a more detailed standard. In the case of UBIK, for example, we have been guided by the French institution AFNOR and ISO standards.
How to make a homemade mask?
We have made several videos to help you make masks in a simple way. Remember to adjust them to the size of the user. There should be no gaps around your face, but it should be comfortable to wear for a couple of hours.
Here are some cool models to make at home:
How to clean masks and preserve them
Once you have your mask, you want to keep it in optimal conditions. That's why we've compiled these tips. Usually we can say that a bleach solution (1:50), the sun and a regular washing machine wash are good allies:
Note: There is still much to learn from coronavirus and its particularities, but these methods are some of the most recent information available.
How to properly care for a cloth mask?
Cleaning a cloth mask is simple. Washing it in a washing machine or by hand is suitable, always using the manufacturer's recommendations if any. Cloth masks also support natural drying and driers. Some people iron their masks to ensure the removal of germs.
As with any type of tissue, strong chemicals such as bleaching can have a negative effects on the tissue fibers of masks. It is important, therefore, to pay attention to the number of washes supported by a given fabric and mask model.
Can masks be reused?
Many of the masks that are on the market, and especially those that are made of paper, allow only one use. In case of severe shortages, it is up to medical professionals to extend their use with different techniques, but this should never be your case.
When it comes to caring for masks, one of the main problems is that their washing can damage their shape or material. On the other hand, not all washing techniques, such as hydrogen peroxide vapor, are within the reach of households. If specified by the manufacturer, carefully read the washing instructions.
Perhaps the easiest way to care for a mask is to have several and alternate their use throughout the days. That guarantees that you deprive the virus of an environment to live in, so it eventually dies.
To store it, you must look for a place you don't need to access for anything else, such as a drawer or an area of the house that is not commonly used. We know that the virus dies faster in tissue than, for example, on metal or plastic.
Like every new habit, the daily use of a face mask is a small challenge. However, it also brings with it the satisfaction of helping to protect others and setting an example. If you do not work with patients, we recommend you opt for reusable hygienic masks. In this way, you also help the environment.
Remember that using a mask implies putting it on and removing it correctly. Wearing it does not make any less necessary to continue with other preventive measures such as hand hygiene or social estrangement.