Common face mask mistakes that you may not even know you're making

From July 24, the Government is making face coverings mandatory in certain shops and settings.

Some people are exempt from these rules, but the new change means that most customers will need to be wearing a face mask – or could be refused entry.

The Government has issued new advice on how to properly store, wash and wear your mask to keep it effective.

But there are some common mistakes that people are still making with their masks – and you might not even know you’re doing it.

1. Wearing a face mask too loose or too tight

Your mask should fit snugly on your face, but not be so tight that it restricts you from breathing normally.

When the edges of the mask are not close to the face and shift, such as when speaking, internal and external air penetrates through the edges of the mask rather than being filtered through the fabric.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that leaks where unfiltered air moves in and out of the mask may be attributed to the size and shape of the mask.

2. Not covering your nose

Your mask should always be covering your nose when you wear it, as not doing so would defeat the point of the mask.

You should place the mask on carefully, ensuring it covers the mouth and nose, before adjusting it to the nose bridge, and then tying it securely to minimise any gaps between the face and the mask.

The mask should also not be sitting above your chin, as it may easily ride up when you are speaking or breathing.



3. Touching and adjusting your mask frequently

You should refrain from constantly readjusting your mask, and if you feel you need to, then you may need to check the size and shape is the correct fit.

Touching your face mask can easily spread any germs from your hands onto your mask.

When removing a face mask you should use the appropriate technique; do not touch the front of the mask but untie it from behind.

After removal or whenever a used mask is inadvertently touched, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub, or soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

4. Using a damaged mask

If you think your mask may be damaged, then you should avoid using it.

Check if the straps are tight and secure, and whether there are any holes before putting on your mask.

5. Reusing disposable masks

You should check to see which type of face mask you have, whether it’s medical, washable or single-use.

Single-use masks should be discarded of after each use, and disposed of immediately upon removal.

6. Using a wet or dirty mask

The WHO advises that all masks should be changed if wet or visibly soiled, and a wet mask should not be worn for an extended period of time.

You should either discard of the mask or place it in a sealable bag where it is kept until it can be washed and cleaned.

It is recommended to wash your reusable mask after every use, and you should also change it if you’ve sneezed or coughed into it.



Common face mask mistakes that you may not even know you're making

7. Removing the mask to talk to someone

You should not remove your mask where there are people within one metre, the WHO explains.

It is important to keep your cloth face covering in place over your nose and mouth at all times while in enclosed spaces.

8. Sharing your mask

You should never share your face mask with other people, even someone within your household.

For more information on the WHO’s guidance on face masks, visit their guidance page here.

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