Proper technique is vital to make masks effective

Published: Apr. 6, 2020 at 11:19 PM CDT
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A new CDC recommendation for everyone to wear a face mask in public has more people interested in face coverings.

But health experts say if you do not wear and handle them properly, you could actually be increasing your risk.

Infection control nurse Tiffany Horsely, RN, showed how to properly handle and wear a mask during Monday's University of Kansas Health System briefing for media.

She says first, wash your hands to prevent anything on your hands from getting on the mask. Then loop the elastic over your ears, and make sure the mask covers your nose and goes below your chin. Some masks will have a bendable piece to shape to the bridge of your nose.

"Once you've put (the mask) into place don't touch it," she said. "The outside of the mask is the part that becomes contaminated and so if you're messing with it, touching it, you're potentially contaminating your hands, where then you can touch your eyes or surface with the contaminated hand."

To take it off the mask, Horsely says to take one loop off your ear, and pull the mask away from your face. If it is a single use mask, immediately dispose of it in a trash can - don't throw it on the ground, or toss it on a table or counter.

If it's a reusable fabric mask, put it in a plastic bag until you can wash it.

Also, Horsely says to wash your hands before and after taking off your mask.