10 common face mask errors to be avoided

Wearing a face mask is compulsory in Portugal, and while they may be uncomfortable, they must be worn properly in order to have any effect.

Photo by Portuguese Gravity on Unsplash
Photo by Portuguese Gravity on Unsplash
22 September 2020, Redaction

Masks are compulsory in Portugal, along with a series of other coronavirus rules and regulations, and have become our best weapon to fight and stop the expansion of the COVID-19 pandemic. But just wearing one is not enough. Knowing how to wear a mask properly and not making beginner's mistakes are essential in order to keep everyone safe and not compromise our health and that of others. Not washing your hands before and after putting on the mask is one of the big mistakes, but there are many others to watch out for, especially if you're planning to travel to Portugal and perhaps not used to wearing a mask. Let's have a look at some of the most common mistakes that are made when using face masks

Not disinfecting your hands

Let's start with the error already mentioned, one which is fundamental for correct use of face masks. There is no point in being careful and wearing a mask if you have not washed your hands before putting it on - preferably with soap and water. Hands are the part of the body that accumulate the most bacteria, so if they are already dirty, then you will immediately contaminate your mask, no matter how new it is.

Touching the mask unnecessarily

You should avoid touching your mask from the centre, whether on the inside or outside. This is where most bacteria build up. If you do need to adjust your mask, you should do it with the side elastics.

Wearing your mask on your arm or chin

By carrying your mask in this way, it quickly becomes useless, since it is constantly being contaminated. When you put it back on, there is no guarantee of protection.

"Stretching" the use of a mask

If you use your mask longer than you should, this can also cancel out its effectiveness. Surgical masks should not be used for more than four hours, for example, and should then be thrown away. The reusable ones also have a recommended maximum number of washes which must be complied with.

Disinfecting your mask and hanging it in the sun

We already know that scientists believe that heat kills the virus or at least it deteriorates faster. But this is not the case with surgical masks, for example, whose tissue can get spoiled at high temperatures and should therefore be thrown away.

Removing your mask to talk on the phone

You can perfectly maintain a phone conversation while wearing your mask and therefore, avoid handling it with dirty hands and contaminating it repeatedly. An even more serious mistake is taking it off when you see someone you know in the street.

Leaving your mask on the table or keeping it in your pocket

This gesture may contaminate places or what you have inside your pocket/bag. Ideally, the experts say, it should be kept in a paper envelope or a small box that should be disinfected daily.  

Choosing one which is too big or too small 

For face masks to work, they must fit perfectly on your face, with no gaps through which the virus can escape, from the nose to the bottom of the chin. For example, buy special children's masks for your children because size is very important in this case.

Spraying with perfume or disinfectant

Although hydroalcoholic gels with at least 70% alcohol eliminate the virus when you wash your hands with them, this does not mean that you should spray your masks with them (and definitely not with perfume).

Washing your mask in a cold wash

If you use cloth masks you will need to wash them after each use. But be careful, for this cleaning to be effective it has to be done with water at 60 degrees or above and with detergent or soap. 

Article seen at: 10 ERRORES que no debes cometer con la mascarilla (Revista AD)

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