Cotton face masks. Guidelines for use.
As we ease out of lock down more and more people will be wearing masks to continue to protect the vulnerable in our society. They are currently compulsory on public transport and advised in areas indoors where it is impossible to maintain the social distancing rules.
They will also be compulsory in shops from 24th July.
It is important to mention that fabric masks are not considered to be medical grade masks and are designed with the main purpose of protecting others.
These are constructed of two layers of cotton fabric, a layer of non-woven material in the middle so will give some protection to the wearer.
However there are some simple guidelines you should follow if you are wearing a mask and you should absolutely continue with social distancing with good hand hygiene as instructed by the Government and the NHS.
Research indicates that wearing masks may create a false sense of security and this can lead to neglecting other essential measures such as good hand washing practices.
If masks are worn, appropriate use and disinfection is essential to ensure they are effective and to avoid any increase in risk of transmission associated with the incorrect handling.
The following guidance is based on the correct use of medical masks which are used health-care settings which I used myself during my 39 year career as a nurse.
- Place the mask carefully to cover mouth and nose and attach securely with the elastic loops behind your ears to minimise any gaps between the face and the mask.
- The pleats should point downwards.
- Bend the metal nose strip in place across your nose and face to prevent any gapping at the top of the mask. (This will also help to prevent glasses from fogging up too.)
- Whilst the mask is in place avoid touching the it and your face.
- If you touch the mask whilst wearing it you should disinfect your hands with alcohol hand gel or wash them with soap and water.
- When removing the mask do not touch the front but remove by hooking the elastic from behind your ears.
- After removal or whenever you inadvertently touch a used mask, clean hands by using an alcohol based hand gel or soap and water.
- Replace masks with a new, clean and dry mask as soon as they become damp.
- These masks should ideally be washed by hand in warm soapy water and dried flat after gently smoothing out the metal nose bar. Do not wring.
- A quick iron once dry will help to keep the mask pleats in place.
- If in constant use or washed at a high temperature elastic can perish over time but these masks have been designed so that you can easily replace the elastic if you need too without damaging the mask.
- If you find that the elastic irritates your ears it can be removed and you will be able to replace it with shoe laces or cotton tape as an alternative. These will then need to be tied at the back of your head. Due to the nature of these products returns can not be processed and there are no refunds.
- Please note that the aluminium nose piece is designed to bend comfortably across the nose but if subjected to excessive and repeated bending it will break. Ideally the masks should be stored flat and not crumpled up in a pocket or handbag.