Hints on protecting yourself and others

Hints on protecting yourself and others


By now we all know that we should wear a mask when out in public. Masks are a big topic, yet many people have questions. Here are some answers that should help. 

Why, suddenly, are masks required?

Up until fairly recently, it was thought that a person could not pass coronavirus to others unless that person had symptoms, like a cough or fever.  But recently it was discovered that many people have been infected in public places by other people who did not have any symptoms whatsoever. Maybe these people will never get symptoms, or soon will, we don’t know. But whatever their situation, they don’t have symptoms and look perfectly fine, yet still can pass the virus on to you or your family.

To minimize this chance, public health experts advise we all wear masks when outside and around others.

I practice social distancing, so why do I need a mask?

Social distancing is not foolproof. Neither is hand washing nor wearing a mask. They all give SOME reduction in risk, but not complete. But if we all do all these things—hand washing, social distancing, and wearing a mask—we help lower the risk the disease spreads even further.

Does a mask protect the person wearing it?

Some masks, such as the ones rated N95, do a great job in reducing the chance the mask wearer will be invaded by the virus. However, very few people, other than first responders, have access to N95 masks. Any lesser quality mask will not protect the mask wearer nearly as well, but probably gives some level of protection.

The coronavirus is so small that it can penetrate the openings in any masks you will find, but again, hopefully, a well-made mask will help protect you from large respiratory droplets given off by others. The biggest danger of wearing a mask is that you think a mask fully protects you from infection. It does not. A mask is worn mostly to protect other people from any virus you might expel. So, yes, wear a mask, but you still need to socially distance while wearing one.

How do I know if a mask is good?

There are many factors involved: material, number of layers, the fit, and if the user is touching it to make it comfortable. 

In general, a good homemade mask is made of at least 2 layers of fabric.  High quality, close-knit cotton is a good, comfortable and washable choice. Hold the mask up to a strong light. If you can clearly see the light through the mask, that mask is probably not thick enough. When you wear it, it should make you feel a little stuffy, but not seriously restrict your breathing. 

How do I clean it?

Homemade cotton masks can be washed in a machine or by hand, simply yet thoroughly with detergent or soap and water. If you use it a lot, clean it every day or two. If, while wearing it, it becomes wet, replace it with a dry mask, then wash the wet one. A wet mask is not effective.

Hints on how make it more comfortable?

—If the elastics behind the ear bother you, find a mask that has ties you tie behind your head.

—If your glasses fog up, before you put them on, wipe your glasses with a dilute solution of kitchen detergent, then let them dry. Also, try putting pressure on the top of the mask with the weight of your glasses. Breathing calmly and slowly through your mouth helps. 

—Wash your hands before putting on your mask (you touch your face to put it on) and wash again after removing it.

—When removing the mask, don’t touch the front of it, as it may have virus on the surface. 

— if you want a good fit, remove any beard.

The mask fit

The illustration at the top shows how a mask should fit— snug, but comfortable. It should cover your nose and chin completely (not sitting on the tip of the nose). Finally—most difficult—do your best not to touch the mask once it is on! 

Don’t pull it off to talk on the phone or talk to others. Each time you do that, you put other people at risk. Only remove it when you are back at home. From the New York Times, here are illustrations how NOT to use a mask.

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To find a doctor, of any specialty, anywhere in Brazil, check out our website: www.ProcuraMed.com.

See also in ProcuraMed:

How to boost your immunity in the age of coronavirus

How homemade chicken soup can help you during the COVID crisis

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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