Masks constitute the first and greatest barrier of contagion against SARS-CoV-2. Its initial effectiveness, however, can be diminished by habits and practices that deteriorate the mask or reduce its power to filter viral particles. For this reason, the WHO, the CDC or the Spanish Ministry of Health have been developing an exhaustive effort to disseminate recommendations when using masks.
Because the storage of this sanitary material in mask holders, its proper cleaning and disinfection or the choice of makeup for oily skin are tips for using masks that maintain their effectiveness in optimal conditions.
These tips for using masks increase their effectiveness and protection against Covid-19
Use mask holders to transport them
Maintaining the ‘health’ of the mask is vital to preserve your own health. Simple contact with dirty hands or contaminated surfaces can neutralize the protection of a mask. Inside the home or a vehicle, it is not mandatory to wear a mask, but the use of mask holders and similar accessories is recommended in these environments, this is, without a doubt, one of the keys to knowing how to use surgical masks without damaging them.
Try to avoid makeup or use it in the right way
The mask poses an added difficulty for women who are adept at makeup. Because 60% of the female population puts on makeup at least once a day, according to a study made by Yves Rocher. This habit can conflict with the mask and its effectiveness.
“When wearing the mask, more moisture is produced, even sweating and this could cause skin irritations,” explains dermatologist Paloma Borregón, from the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (AEDV). Makeup would add a layer, an additional barrier to the skin’s pores, to the detriment of skin health.
Borregón herself provides one of the best tips when using masks and makeup: «this (skin irritations) happens regardless of whether or not we wear makeup. However, it is recommended, if we want to put on makeup, to use an oil-free or non-comedogenic makeup base mainly so that it does not obstruct the follicle ».
Most of the existing masks are marked with an ‘R’ ‘reusable’. They are popular because they represent obvious savings compared to ‘NR’ masks, that is, ‘not reusable’. However, improper cleaning and disinfection can ruin the properties of this sanitary ware. It is important to wash it at a minimum temperature of 60 degrees Celsius and let it dry completely before use, since humidity prevents the filtration of virus particles. This is an excellent advice for the use of masks, to extend their useful life and preserve their filtering power as the first day.
Wear age-appropriate masks
It is a manifest error to give children their own adult masks. Its design and dimensions will generate, in addition to discomfort, the appearance of gaps and spaces that would reduce the effectiveness of the mask. It is therefore recommended to use masks adapted to the age of the user. To identify the correct model, it is advisable to pay attention to its coverage (mouth, nose and chin) without opening gaps on the sides or obstructing the user’s vision.
However, both the WHO and Unicef advise against the use of this medical material in children under five years of age. The Government of Spain established the obligation to wear a mask for those over six years old, for reasons of child safety, except for those with existence of respiratory difficulties.
Avoid putting two masks and other bad practices
At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, numerous fake news spread. Perhaps the best example is that of the double mask. But does using two masks really increase the level of protection? The specialists assure that this practice only increases the discomfort and the risk of touching the mask with the hands. In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) has already assured that surgical masks offer a filtration efficiency of 95%, a non-incremental percentage with the use of 2-3 additional units, since this medical material already has a minimum of three layers of synthetic non-woven materials.
Clean and moisturize the face
Use the mask without washing your face? This error lies in the negative effect of sweating and other facial segregations on the components of the mask, which filtration efficiency may be useless in one or more areas of the product.
From a skin health perspective, cleansing and moisturizing the face are beneficial. The duration of a mask is around 4-5 hours. During this period, impurities in the skin, added to the action of the mask, can cause breakouts of acne and other infections. It is therefore recommended to wash your face before putting on this sanitary material.