Long before they were advised for the public at large, health experts recommended face masks for people who have compromised immune systems, such as those who have primary immunodeficiencies. And now, after a period of conflicting messages, health authorities in many places urge members of the general public to wear masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Though not perfect, even a cloth face mask can provide some measure of protection, infectious disease experts have concluded. In New York, for instance, masks are now required in spaces where people cannot keep six feet away from each other. Wearing a mask over the mouth and nose could prevent asymptomatic people who are infected with the novel coronavirus from giving it to others.
Though common among the general public in Asia, wearing a face covering to prevent illness is an entirely new behavior for many people in North America, Europe and other parts of the world. Adjusting to anything new can be difficult and there’s the additional challenge of wearing one in warm weather if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere right now. Here are five tips to make it easier.
1. Unless you work in health care, most people are encouraged to wear a cloth mask rather than a medical grade mask.
2. Adjust your cloth mask so it covers your nose and mouth. Tie or fasten it so the mask fits snugly without gaps, but make sure you can breathe in it.
3. After wearing, wash your reusable mask at the highest temperature suitable to the fabric. Dry on high heat or in direct sunlight.
4. Choose a 100% cotton mask because it will be cooler in warm temperatures. Bring an extra in case your mask gets damp or wet in the heat.
5. Be safe but try to limit the amount of time you must wear a mask. Take breaks when possible. Wearing a mask for too long could irritate your skin underneath. Remove your mask when you’re alone and able to keep a safe distance from others.