Face masks are an important tool in our protective arsenal and are worn to protect against the spread of COVID-19 and to protect others from being infected by the wearer. It is essential that people wear a mask when out in public, especially when maintaining a safe distance is impossible.
Since the start of the pandemic we have heard about different types of masks and the important role they play as part of the personal protective equipment (PPE) that health professionals wear.
Types of masks
There are different types of masks that can be grouped into three main categories:
- Surgical masks: There are several types of these masks and they prevent the spread of the virus.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) masks: There are different types and they do not usually have a valve, such as FFP1 and FFP2 masks, which protect against infection and limit the spread of the virus. On the other hand, FFP3 masks do prevent the wearer from infection but do not prevent the spread of the virus. FFP3 masks are only used in hospitals and during certain procedures.
- Cloth masks: They can be made at home with fabric. They can limit the spread of the virus, and while they provide less protection than the other types of professional masks, they do have certain advantages. They can be reused, that is, they can be disinfected and worn again. It is important to note that these types of masks can be custom-made, especially for younger children. To reuse, fabric masks should be washed at 60 degrees after each use.
How to put on and remove masks correctly
The way masks are put on and taken off is crucial. It is difficult for children under three years of age to keep masks on and they are not required to wear one.
Wearing a mask in public is recommended for older children and they should learn to wear it correctly. You can teach them the following steps:
- Wash your hands properly, with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Hold the mask by the ear loops. Bring the mask to the nose and place a loop behind each ear.
- Adjust the mask. If it has a nose clip, pinch it to the shape of the nose. Glasses should be worn over the mask.
To prevent infection, avoid touching the mask, lowering the mask below your nose, or wearing it around your neck while using it.
To remove the mask, carefully hold the ear loops and take off the mask. Disinfect after use or store it in a watertight bag.
Masks are for personal and individual use and must not be shared.
Once they can no longer be used (if the mask is damp or shows sign of damage), throw the mask away in a watertight bag and, once again, clean your hands.