Face mask

How to Safely Wear and Remove a Surgical Mask

Wearing a facemask in public for health protection isn’t something we’re accustomed to in the United Kingdom, but during these uncertain times, a face mask can help to bring some reassurance.

Although they may help to reduce the spread of infections, including COVID-19, putting them on correctly and removing them safely is key to their protective benefits. Keep reading to find out how.

Tips for putting on your surgical type IIR facemask

  • Before putting on your mask or even touching it, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. If this is unavailable use our 75% alcohol hand sanitizer, rub it into both hands, being sure to cover all hand surfaces for at least 20 seconds until dry.
  • Check your mask to make sure it is intact. Do not use if there are any tears, holes or the ear loops are broken. Never use a mask that has already been worn.
  • Ensure the mask is the right way round (if your mask has a metal strip make sure it is at the top of the mask) and the darker blue side is pointing outward (away from your face).
  • Hold the mask by the ear loops, one in each hand. Place one loop over each ear making sure the mask covers your nose, mouth, and chin.
  • Pinch the metal strip with your fingers so it moulds to your nose shape.
  • If the mask has moved, pull it into position so it is over your mouth and chin as well as nose. It should fit snugly.
  • Don’t touch the mask now it’s in position.
  • If it gets wet, damp, or dirty while you’re wearing it, replace it with a new mask.

Things to avoid when wearing a surgical mask

So, your mask is in place but there are certain things you need to remember to prevent spreading harmful bugs.

For example, you should not:

  • Touch the mask at all when it’s on your face or when removing it as it could have germs on it.
  • Hang the mask around your neck
  • Hang it from one ear
  • Cross the ear loops
  • Re-use it (they’re designed for single use)

How to remove a surgical type IIR facemask safely

Now you no longer require the mask to be on, you must remove it correctly to prevent the transfer of germs from your hands to your face. Here’s how:

  • Before removing the mask, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. If this is unavailable use our 75% alcohol hand sanitizer, rub it into both hands, being sure to cover all hand surfaces for at least 20 seconds until dry.
  • Remember the mask could be contaminated so you mustn’t touch the mask Instead, hold it by the ear loops, one in each hand.
  • Carefully remove your mask by unhooking both ear loops and leaning slightly forward and pulling the mask away from your face.
  • Still holding the mask by its loops, discard it into a covered rubbish bin.
  • One the mask has been removed, thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water or using hand sanitizer.

Remember to always discard of used masks responsibly into a covered rubbish bin. Simply, removing them and throwing them on the floor or not putting them in the bin risks spreading the virus to other people and it’s also not good for the environment.

Remember

Wearing a mask is not the only way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, masks should be used alongside:

  • Good hand hygiene techniques i.e. washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and where this is not possible, using hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Adhering to social distancing guidelines like keeping 2 metres apart from others
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Self-isolate if you or any of your household shows any symptoms.

Sources

National Health Service. (2020). Social Distancing: What You Need to Do. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/social-distancing/what-you-need-to-do/

World Health Organization. (2020). Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Advice for the Public: When and How to Use Masks. Available at: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks

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