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Learn How to Mitigate Skin Irritation and Damage

Over the past few months, face mask usage has become a normal part of our daily routine. According to the World Health Organization, here are some helpful tips on how to properly wear a face mask:

1. Before putting on a mask, clean hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water.

2. Cover both mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.

3. Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water.

4. Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.

5. If using a cloth mask, wash immediately with soap and water after every use.

6. To remove the mask: remove it from behind the ears (do not touch the front of the mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water.

I NEED TO ADD THESE PERSONAL THOUGHTS:

There have been studies about the effectiveness of different masks (including by Duke’s School of Medicine). Here is the link to the study published on August 7th, 2020: https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/08/07/sciadv.abd3083

In a nutshell, here are the conclusions:

A) The professionally fitted N95 mask (usually reserved for the health care workers) are the most effective

B) 3 layer surgical masks and cotton masks performed well (please do not confuse every 3 layer mask as being a surgical mask, even if they look similar and are both disposable)

C) Neck fleeces or gaiter masks (usually used by runners) were found to be the least effective; in fact, wearing these types of masks resulted in a higher number of respiratory droplets

D) Folded bandanas and knitted masks performed poorly

· I like to use an iron machine on high temperature setting for reusable masks (if they are cotton made; please be careful with other fabrics, as high temperatures can damage/melt other fabrics). After ironing, please let the mask to cool down before using it

· I like to use the time I spend driving to help dry my reusable mask; I just find a way to hang the mask to the vent and blast the A/C

· You should change your mask regularly especially if you feel your mask wet due to breathing and/or sweat. Wet or damp masks DO NOT help

· I recommend having 4-5 clean masks with you for a longer day at work or running errands.

· Please do not mist your mask with any facial toner, essential oils, alcohol, Lysol, or any other solutions – your mask will become ineffective. In addition, you will inhale whatever you mist into your mask and you may have other things to worry about

· Instead of wetting/misting your mask, use a mandelic or a salicylic toner on your face, let it absorbed and dry, complete your regular skincare regimen, wait 5 minutes, and apply your mask

· Oral hygiene is a giving, but if you need to revisit this aspect especially with your children, now will be the perfect time. Minimizing bacteria will help in controlling those breakouts

· Be careful to make a clear distinction between breakouts due to all the reasons stated above and an allergic reaction caused by the fabric that your reusable mask is made of