In this time of the pandemic, face masks have now become a standard accessory that everyone should wear. It is not a trend but a necessary precaution to keep ourselves safe from the COVID-19 virus that is aimlessly spreading to threaten our health. In no less than a year, our lives met such a quick turn which totally changed the way we now live our lives.
So suddenly, it is not anymore safe to roam around without safety precautions, and that is by practicing social distancing, frequent hand washing and more importantly, wearing face shields and face masks at all times whenever possible. As individuals trying to live through the new normal, following these efforts seriously are so far the only effective way to safeguard ourselves from the virus.
Face masks are now a common sight everywhere, especially in the Philippines where we are still in a state of a pandemic. Many have resorted to wearing all sorts of face masks from disposable, reusable, fabric, and other eco-friendly and stylish alternatives since these have now become a part of their daily look.
With the increased use of reusable face masks, concerns as to how to reuse them correctly have been such an important thing to discuss following the procedures to ensure they remain effective in minimizing health risks caused by the virus.
How often should you change your masks?
When you are wearing disposable ones, you need to throw them right away after use. A disposable mask is designed only to be used once, so do not even attempt to reuse it. In a study conducted by SciELO, where they studied the efficacy of disposable masks as a microbial barrier, the masks showed a decrease in efficacy after a 4-hour wearing time. Thus, they should be replaced by then as frequently as possible especially when you often remove and touch it to increase your protection.
How often should you wash your mask?
While disposable face masks are now available at a much lower price compared to when the pandemic started, a lot of people still prefer the use of cloth masks since they cost cheaper and helps a lot in minimizing the adverse environmental impacts caused by the widespread use of face masks.
Another thing is that cloth masks are very flexible for styling. To add more, they are less hard on the face compared to surgical masks which can be harsh to the skin which can cause breakouts or maskne.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), your face mask should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use. However, it’s best that you always wash your used mask at the end of the day.
Infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Maryland, also agrees with this notion in an interview with Health. Dr. Adalja also suggests that you should also consider having a stash of masks on hand so you’ll always have a clean ready for any time use.
How should you store your mask between use?
If your mask is wet, possibly from a drink you had earlier or from your saliva, it is best to replace it with a new one since it is hard to breathe on a wet mask. This can also cause breakouts on your skin. If the mask is wet, you need to store it in a sealed plastic bag until you can wash it so it does not mold.
If your mask doesn’t look too soiled, you can temporarily store your mask when you’re not wearing it such as when you eat or drink. When taking it off, avoid touching the inside of the mask and always sanitize or wash your hands when touching it. Store it temporarily in places where it is not exposed such as on a breathable bag, and fold it face out. Always sanitize when you put it back on.
While you do your business without your mask, always practice social distancing to lessen your risk of contracting the virus. For the times you feel unprotected without a mask on, Aivee Clinic has invented a solution to get extra protection from viruses — the Aivee VStick. This is a specially formulated inhaler that protects the upper respiratory tract from viruses. Together with your face mask and face shield, you’ll feel more protected with the Aivee VStick.
Why is washing my face mask so important?
You need to wash your face mask regularly simply because it is contaminated. Once you use it and it touches your nose and mouth, you’ll need to consider it as contaminated. The virus might get into the mask and penetrate the respiratory system since you’re always touching it. Thus, it is imperative that you take extra precautions to be safe.