With the lockdowns easing everywhere, safety masks have become an integral part of our fight against the novel coronavirus, especially in places where social distancing may not get followed easing.
Why should you wear masks?
Novel coronavirus mainly spreads through droplets that are released by sick people while coughing, sneezing, and even talking.
One might have COVID-19 and not know about it
When each one of us wears masks irrespective of whether they are sick or not, it curbs the spread of infection through people having no symptoms.
Using face masks:
– Prevents the release of droplets from symptomatic persons
– Prevents transmission from people who may be infected but are asymptomatic
– Protects healthy person from coming in contact with the droplets that may be released from an infected person
Who should wear masks?
Everyone, except :
– Children less than 2 years of age
– Anyone who has trouble in breathing, is unconscious, or won’t be able to remove the mask without help.
Wear the right mask in the right way
1. Cloth masks and 3-fold surgical masks are ideal for the general public.
2. N-95 respirator masks are recommended for healthcare workers who’re constantly in contact with COVID-19 positive people.
Whichever mask you are using, make sure it fits properly and comfortably without leaving any gaps above your nose, face and chin. Ill-fitting masks are a big no-no as they may compromise the level of protection.
Refrain from masks that have valves
A mask with a valve might look more functional than the one without it. However, experts say that the valved mask can increase the spread of infection since their filters act only one way. The air you breathe in is filtered but the exhaled air doesn’t get filtered.
Tips on wearing masks for longer durations
1. Fabric matters: Use tightly knit, 100% cotton fabric as it is breathable and also provides proper protection. Hold the cloth piece in light. The fewer small holes you see, the ideal the cloth. Cotton allows to keep the covered area cooler and can prevent heat rash and aggravating skin issues.
2. Wear clean masks: Carry a pair of clean masks with you so that if the one you’re using becomes damp or soiled, you can replace it with a fresh one.
3. Limit skin-care products: Covering your skin for long hours may make your skin sensitive to a number of skin products. If you notice any irritation, limit the products you generally use including aftershave lotion, leave-on creams, etc.
4. Protect your ears: To prevent your ears from feeling sore, use masks that have different types of strings and loops. Using these alternatively can help ease the stress on your ears.
5. Wash your face: Before wearing the mask, get rid of the oil and dirt present on your face which may lead to breakouts. Use an oil-free, mild cleanser and rinse your face with lukewarm water.
6. Moisturize: Choose a moisturizer that contains either ceramide or hyaluronic acid. Avoid using greasy ointments before wearing masks as it may affect the fitting of the mask and also make you sweat more. Pick the moisturizer depending on your skin type.
– Dry skin: Cream-based.
– Oily skin: Gel-based.
– Normal or combination skin: Lotion.
7. Say no to makeup: Using makeup while wearing masks for prolonged durations may clog your pores. If you do have to use makeup, go for products that are non-comedogenic or oil-free.
8. Don’t quit ongoing skin treatment: If you’re already being treated for some skin condition like acne, continue the treatment. This is vital to keep your condition under control. If you have any queries related to it, don’t hesitate to check with your doctor.
Don’t forget: 3 Ws to prevent COVID
1. Wearing masks
2. Washing hands
3. Watching your distance
No single precaution is fully effective, but using these precautions together can protect you.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Swati Mishra, Medical Editor)
1. COVID-19: Considerations for Wearing Cloth Face Coverings. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover-guidance.html