Wearing a mask is nothing new for health professionals, but it has become a new way of life for everyone else. If your role as a care provider did not previously require you to wear a mask, you might be struggling to adjust. But rest assured, there are things you can do to ease the transition to daily wear.
Cloth or surgical?
First and foremost, it’s important to make sure you are always following the correct PPE usage and Public Health England guidance. Depending on your role within a care home, and the tasks you’re required to do, you’ll likely need to wear disposable masks provided by your employer, which may even need to be changed several times throughout the day. Check with your employer if you are unsure about what the requirements are for your job.
Studies are conflicting about whether cloth or surgical masks are most effective. Recently, researchers at Duke University found that a fitted N95 mask, a three-layer surgical mask and a cotton-polypropylene-cotton mask were the most effective at protecting against Covid-19.
Change or wash your mask frequently
But if you’ve opted for a cotton mask, or are in a position to make a disposable mask last, then it’s important to wash it or change it after every shift.
When taking your mask off, make sure not to touch the front of the mask. Instead, use the ear loops or the ties to release the mask from your face. Then fold it and put directly into a laundry bag for washing, or a bin if it’s disposable. It’s also important to wash your hands immediately afterwards or, if hand soap is not available, use hand sanitiser with at least sixty percent alcohol content.
Put a stop to foggy glasses
Those of you who have to brave the dreaded mask-glasses combo will no doubt have a foggy outlook on the whole ordeal. But wearing a properly fitting mask will help reduce the steam on your specs, as will putting a piece of tissue in your mask to absorb the extra condensation. Your mask should fit tightly on top of your nose and beneath your chin. Most purpose-made masks will feature a metal strip at the top of the mask, which you can bend around the bridge of your nose for a tighter fit.
If the masks with elasticated ear-loops are preventing a snug fit, you might want to try ones which tie at the back of the head for more security. If you still find yourself needing extra help, try some anti-fog spray for your glasses, available at most drug stores.
Most will have no trouble adjusting to breathing with a mask on, but some may experience issues with breathlessness. If this happens to you, see if you can switch to a material that is more breathable. Disposable masks will most likely be more breathable than cloth, but if you would like to use a cloth mask make sure the fabric is pure cotton to allow for easier air flow.
Avoiding the use of strongly-scented detergents when washing masks will also help prevent you from feeling too claustrophobic.
Always speak to your employer if the use of a mask is causing anxiety and therefore breathlessness.
Protect your skin
Some are finding that daily mask usage is wreaking havoc on their skin, causing breakouts and clogged pores. If this is you, make sure you reduce the chances of acne by going without makeup under the mask (no one will see you anyway!). Using a good exfoliant at the end of the day will help slough off dead skin cells and keep your skin clear.
For others, it’s not necessarily acne that’s the problem, but chafing behind the ears from elasticated straps. To prevent the pain that comes with tight bands hugging your ears all day, use a paperclip to fasten the elastic loops together at the back of your head, which will reduce the pressure on your ears and therefore chafing.
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