It used to be the case that the only time you would expect to see someone donning a mask and gloves was in a healthcare setting. Now the prevalence of these protective items is growing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, many people have not been properly trained on how to use these items, making them less effective. We have been wearing protective gear for many years and can offer some tips and tricks to help you navigate their usage.
1. Mask On / Mask Off: It is important to make sure you are fully committing to wearing a mask if you choose to wear one. Many times a mask is put on, and then as it becomes bothersome it is placed around the chin or hanging from the ears until the person wearing it is ready to place it back on. This allows the germs that are on the outside of the mask to migrate into the mouth or nasal areas (the very ones we are trying to protect!). For your health, don’t be wishy-washy either fully wear the mask or take it off completely and discard.
2. To Glove Or Not To Glove: Gloves seem like a great way to protect yourself from germs, and they are if you are properly disposing of them after each unique contaminate encounter. For the average grocery store trip, however; gloves aren’t very effective because we are constantly cross-contaminating by touching various surfaces. We also have a false sense of security with our gloves on and forget that they are covered in germs! Your best hand protection is your unbroken skin and a bottle of hand sanitizer. With bare hands, you are able to liberally apply sanitizer throughout your outing (and you should!), especially before reaching for personal items. If you choose to wear gloves in public, please remember to change them if they get wet, and do not apply sanitizer to your gloves because it will diminish the integrity of the glove.
3. Cover Your Mouth (And Your Nose!): Masks are meant to cover your nose and your mouth. If you are wearing your mask with your nose out you are only letting it do half of the job, and you’re exposing your nasal passage to droplet transmission.
4. Can’t Touch This: Avoid adjusting your mask once it is on your face. When you first apply your mask make sure you’ve washed your hands or used sanitizer if washing isn’t possible. Press the nose bridge into a comfortable spot if it is adjustable and refrain from adjusting. Remember, the outside of your mask is dirty, and likely your hands are dirty too. Adjusting your mask gives the opportunity for germs to travel to other parts of your face and eyes.
5. Glasses half full (of fog!): If you wear eyeglasses you may have already realized that it can be tough to wear both glasses and a mask due to fogging. One way to prevent this from happening is to wash your lenses with soap and water which will create a coating on the lens making it less susceptible to fogging. Using an antibacterial soap and washing your glasses often also helps to remove germs from an item that is on and off your face.
If you have any further questions about COVID-19 and how to protect yourself, please visit the Centers for Disease Control website at cdc.gov.