- In light of new research, the CDC is again emphasizing the wearing of a face mask with an appropriate fit and multiple layers to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
- Experts say that if you have to keep adjusting your face mask, it will not fit well, which increases your risk of spreading or becoming infected with the new coronavirus.
- Try these simple 30 second tests to improve the fit of your face mask.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated its guidelines on how to ensure that your face mask provides maximum protection against COVID-19. Although the recommendations are not a major departure from previous guidelines, they are more specific.
One theme is consistent in the guide: a proper fit is crucial. The CDC specifically recommends that your mask “fit snugly against your face” to protect you and others from being exposed to respiratory droplets that may infect you. the coronavirus, especially as new, more contagious varieties of the virus is circulating across the country.
The emphasis on properly wearing a mask follows recently released research, who found that tying knots at ear heights and pulling the sides of disposable masks and wearing fabric covers over surgical masks (aka double masking), provides better protection against COVID-19 than a single-layer cloth or a poorly fitted medical mask alone.
Remember: Your face mask should act as a barrier. When it does not fit well, ”you do not breathe through the mask – you breathe most around it, ”says William Schaffner, MD, a specialist in infectious diseases and professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “And if you do not breathe through your mask, viruses that may be in the air are free to infect you or others.”
How to make sure your face mask fits properly
Your face mask should have at least to lag of breathable fabric and should completely cover your nose and mouth, extend close over your cheeks and fit under your chin, it CDC say. If you have to keep adjusting your mask, it will not fit well.
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all mask. “Each person has a different face profile,” he says Juan Hinestroza, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Fiber Science at Cornell University. “There is no one-size-fits-all mask.”
But experts say there are a few things you can do to test the fit of your mask and adjust it accordingly. Just a head up, per. Hinestroza: The popular “candle test” (where you put on your mask to see if you can blow a candle out) is not one of them. Although it helps you see if the substance in your mask is blocking air coming straight out of your mouth – it does not detect the air leaking out of (or through) the sides of your mask due to a poor fit.
It is also important to pay attention to how your mask feels on your face. “Take your time when you put it on – it’s the critical time,” says Dr. Schaffner, as you should not be fussing with your mask once it is in the face. Try these tests at home to make sure your fit is level:
This can be a problem for people who have smaller face profiles. “Feel around your mask to see how close it fits,” he says Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Again, the mask should sit well over the nose, the sides of the cheeks and under the chin. If you can place a finger in the sides of your mask, it is not tight enough.
✔️ Customize controls: Start with freshly washed hands to eliminate gaps. Then fold your stitch in half, tie a knot in each ear circle so close to the corner of the stitch, and then pull the sides into it. That TikTok below from Olivia Cuid, MD, a dentist in Montreal who offers excellent step-by-step instructions on how to do just that.
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The air inside your mask should feel warm against your skin, says Dr. Schaffner. If you feel cooler air currents, there are either holes in your mask or you do not have enough layers in your mask to provide proper filtration.
✔️ Customize controls: If you have already taken care of the holes on the sides of your mask (or you did not have one to begin with), consider double masking, especially if you are in a high-risk area, such as on a busy public bus or in a crowded grocery store. The CDC specifically recommends wearing a cloth face mask on top of a disposable surgical mask so that the bottom mask can function as a sort of kind. It is important to remember that you must always be able to see and breathe freely when wearing two face masks.
This is a common test performed with N95 respirators to ensure that they fit properly. Carriers are asked if they smell anything while wearing the mask. It is unlikely that a face mask of cloth will completely block yours ability to smell things when you wear it, but “you want a subdued sense of smell while wearing your mask,” says Dr. Schaffner.
✔️ Customize controls: You can experiment by smelling a strong scent, like a lemon or orange, at arm’s length before putting on your mask. Then smell again when you wear your mask. The scent should at least be less potent if your mask has enough layers and an appropriate fit over the nose and mouth.
If you wear glasses, fog lenses is an indicator that you do not have a good fit around the nose, says Hinestroza. If you do not have prescription glasses at home, sunglasses can also work for this test. Just put on your mask, breathe, and see if your glasses fog up.
✔️ Customize controls: If you are wearing foggy glasses, adjust the nose cable well over your nose and tighten the straps to make sure there are no gaps in the mask between your cheeks and eyes. Are you still struggling? That Says the CDC you can also try using a mask fitter, a solid or silicone device worn over your mask (as this) to prevent air from seeping out through the edges. These need to be wrapped around outside of your mask, does not fit inside as a mask bracket, which experts do not currently recommend.
This article is accurate per. Press time. As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves rapidly and the scientific community’s understanding of the new coronavirus evolves, some of the information may have changed since it was last updated. While we strive to keep all of our stories up to date, visit the online resources provided by CDC, WHO, and yours local public health department to keep you informed of the latest news. Always talk to your doctor for professional medical attention.
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