Surgical masks can protect you from airborne bacteria and virus. (Source: Reuters)
Surgical masks are easily available in the market. Experts suggest using surgical masks to protect yourself from harmful airborne bacteria and virus particles, keeping flu at bay.
A surgical mask is different from the anti-pollution P-rated or N-rated masks that provide protection from particulate matter. A typical surgical mask is something you might have noticed healthcare professionals wear — a disposable mask made of cloth, coloured on one side and white on the other.
With the outbreak of coronavirus infection, people are now being advised to wear surgical masks for protection. If you are using one, are you sure you are wearing it correctly?
How to wear surgical masks correctly
Firstly, you need to wash your hands clean before touching the mask.
Seto Wing Hong, co-director, World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control, explained in a video that the mask should be worn such that the coloured part (usually blue or green) faces the outside. Wing Hong explains the coloured side of the mask is waterproof while the white part on the inside acts as the absorbent when you breathe or cough.
The outer coloured layer of the surgical mask is "hydrophobic" or "a fluid-repelling layer...that prevents germs from sticking to it", mentioned Bel Nawhen, a columnist of an NGO Medical Mythbusters Malaysia, in a viral Facebook post, as reported by The Star Online. In the same post, Nawhen also shared pictures with guidelines on how to wear a surgical mask.
Again, when you buy the mask, check if it has a thick band on one side, which should be adjusted on your nose while wearing. The lower end of the mask should be pulled down to your chin for full protection, advised Wing Hong.
How to remove a surgical mask
Wing Hong pointed out that the correct removal of the surgical mask is equally important. Once you have breathed on the mask, it gets contaminated. So, when you remove it, make sure to not touch the mask and just pull it by the ear loops and dispose, followed by washing of your hands.