If you choose to wear a cloth face mask to help prevent spreading of virus or bacterial particles there are important guidelines to know. Cloth face coverings should:
- Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of your face.
Please note: Those with facial hair will need to remove or closely crop your hair to allow the mask to sit against your skin. The current style of big beards and bushy side burns diminishes the effectiveness of wearing a mask.
- Fit snugly over the bridge of your nose.
Wearing a mask below your nose is not providing the protection you seek.
- Be secured with ties or ear loops.
- Include multiple layers of fabric.
Pulling a bandana or buff over your face provides minimal benefit. You will need to fold the material to create 3 layers. If you have a homemade covering, be sure it has 3 layers.
- Allow for breathing without restriction.
Yes, you want protection and to do that you need multiple layers of a tightly woven material, but make sure you can breathe easily through it. If it is difficult to breathe through not only will it be uncomfortable but it will be less effective as you will be pushing and pulling air around the mask and NOT through it. All those particles will not be caught.
- Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.
A dirty, moist face covering is not healthy for you and if you wear a mask, it will get moist and dirty. You must change your mask when it gets moist or dirty. You will be laundering them frequently. Drying them with heat helps to sanitize them.
Other points to consider if you choose to wear a mask or face covering:
- When you are alone, remove the face covering. This will help to keep it dry. A dry mask is more effective.
- Take note of your ability to freely breathe. An improper mask or face covering can impede exchange of oxygen in the air for the CO2 you exhale and cause you to re-breathe the same air. A moist face covering makes this worse. The result could be light headedness, dizziness, difficulty breathing or even loss of consciousness. For this reason do NOT wear a mask or face covering when sleeping unless it is prescribed by a doctor and designed for that explicit purpose.
Dr. Barry Wahner