The wearing of a mask is an aid to help prevent the spread of airborne infectious allergens, bacteria, dust or contaminants it is not a guarantee and masks should always be used in accordance with official advice.
Surgical and procedure masks are generally used to reduce the risk of pathogen transfer between individuals.
Masks accomplish this by covering the mucous membranes of the nose, mouth, lungs with filtering materials and eyes where applicable with a visor.
They can be used as protection for asymptomatic individuals or as a way to contain droplets from symptomatic individuals; however no mask completely eliminates the risk of exposure to blood or body fluids.
Ensuring a good fit
There are several things that contribute to a good fit. The most important consideration is the nose piece. It should mold over the nose and cheeks and maintain its shape over time.
It should not kink or break when adjusted. Individuals with wider faces should select a mask that ensures full coverage over the face and under the chin.
The upper tie should sit at the crown of the head, and the lower tie should be tied behind the neck to hold the sides of the mask against the face to prevent any gaping.
Duration of mask usage
The filtration efficiency and protective ability of a medical face mask is compromised when the mask becomes wet, torn or dislodged.
Generally speaking, the higher the protection value of a mask the longer it will maintain filtration; however there is no set rule for how long a mask should be worn as it depends on humidity levels, respiration rate, nasal discharge, talking, etc.
A medical face mask should be worn for only one patient procedure or visit. If a mask gets wet or soiled it should be replaced.
How to wear a medical mask
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals are curious about the proper use of medical masks.
WHO released updated Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19 on 5 June 2020.
Watch this video to learn more about which individuals should consider wearing a medical mask and how to properly put on, take off and dispose of the mask.