ST. LOUIS — Patterned, solid, DIY, sewn — when it comes to face masks it's not just what you wear, but how you wear it. While the CDC is recommending people wear face coverings of some sort when out in public, there are a lot of wrong ways to wear yours.
First, find a mask that properly fits. Make sure you're covering your nose at least up to its bridge and down over your mouth and chin. It should be snug, without gaps on the side.
Wash your hands before you put your mask on, before you take it off and again after you take it off. That means you shouldn’t remove your mask until you’re in a position to wash your hands.
Dr. Tim Wiemken, from Saint Louis University’s Division of Infectious Diseases, said that also means you should never tuck your mask beneath your chin for a break from wearing it.
Avoiding touching your face means avoiding touching the fabric, too.
“Leave it on. It's not going to hurt anything because it's just gonna prevent you from touching that potentially virus-infected piece of cloth," he said. “The only thing you've done is touched the front where all the viruses and now your hand is full virus. Then, you rub your face because you're out running or sweating or something and you've just infected yourself, even though you have this mask on. So, it certainly didn't protect you like you thought it would.”
Dr. Wiemken also advised removing the mask by its ear loops or strings and pulling it out and away from your face — never up over it — and washing it after each wear.
While it’s important to handle the mask properly, he said you don’t have to worry about an air-tight seal on your face — or shaving your beard.
“The kind of the type of mask that the beard is really going to be a problem for are those N-95 respirators that healthcare workers really need,” he said. “The beard is not an issue in terms of cloth masks or even surgical masks, and that's generally the recommendation right now.”
The CDC’s recommendation to wear a mask in public goes along with its recommendations for social distancing, so be sure to maintain a minimum 6-foot separation from others to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.