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How Effective Is Double Masking, The New Protective Norm?

How Effective Is Double Masking, The New Protective Norm?


Disclaimer: this article about double masking is a guest post and the author’s opinions are their own. The editors’ team at Corpus Aesthetics supports a freedom of expression, but is unable to confirm or deny any claims related to the issues discussed below. For any medical advice regarding COVID-19, please make sure to consult your physician.


As the world is battling through the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, believe it or not, every person plays a part towards recovery to a gradual and safe return to a pre-pandemic time. Especially with new COVID-19 strains, every individual must follow safety guidelines diligently to mitigate the risk of spread.

a woman wearing a mask

Just as hygiene and cleanliness are being prioritized, safety protocols are high priority as well. Wearing a double mask, maintaining social distance, and avoiding crowded places are some precautions to be taken. Hand sanitization is highly critical as it is recommended to wash your hands regularly with sanitizer and soaps.

Getting vaccinated is every individual’s responsibility. However, vaccines do not entirely prevent a COVID-19 infection, so it is best to mask up and stay protected! Today, we are going to take a look at why double masking is being recommended by the world COVID-19 crisis management bodies, and how to double-mask correctly.

What does Double masking Mean?

Double masking is a preventive measure that involves wearing one mask on top of another to avoid the microscopic virus from penetrating through the layers of fabric. It improves the mask’s effectiveness by enhancing the particle filtration rate, thereby preventing contamination of the virus. It also limits the release of infected droplets containing the virus upon exhalation.

Types of Protective Face Masks

For prevention against COVID-19, there are three types of WHO and CDC approved masks used:

  1. Cloth based masks
  2. Disposable or surgical masks
  3. N-95 masks
types of masks: homemade cloth mask, surgical mask and n95 mask

Cloth Masks

Cloth masks are made of breathable fabric. They are recommended for the general public and can be worn daily. The material should be multilayered, preferably found in a 2-layer face mask, and should be able to block light when held up in front of bright light.

Cloth masks can be worn in public settings. It is not recommended for individuals with breathing issues. These masks can be washed frequently.

Disposable, surgical masks

Surgical masks are usually flat or rectangular with creases or folds. They have elastic bands to wear by looping the bands behind the ears. These masks are loose-fitting, designed to protect the wearer from large particle aerosols, sprays and so on.

However, by design, they do not filter or block small particles transmitted via coughs or sneezes. Due to the loose fit between the surface of the mask and the face, these masks are advised to be worn underneath a cloth mask for added protection.

N95 respirator mask

n95 mask against covid pandemic

An N95 mask is designed to protect from larger particles and smaller particles, such as bacteria. It contains a respirator, generally oval-shaped, and some may have an exhalation valve. The edges of the respirator are designed to form a seal around the nose and mouth. KN95 masks are also similar to N95 masks. However, they do not have exhalation valves.

These are commonly used in healthcare settings and are considered the best mask for COVID-19 as well. It is essential to note that N95 respirators with exhalation valves should not be used by people with symptoms of COVID-19, asymptomatic people and when sterile conditions are required.

example of masking: a girl wearing a surgical mask

Why should we double mask?

Based on recent study, it is recommended to double mask to prevent the transmission of the virus and protect individuals against the threat of catching its highly contagious variants.

  • Adding more layers to your mask reduces the quantity of respiratory droplets that enter or exit the mask.
  • Ensures a snug fit around your face to protect vulnerability in contagious environments.
  • Close any gaps due to loose masks or your face shape.

The Do’s of Double Masking

Double masking should be followed while continuing to practice physical distancing and proper hygiene. Here are tips on double masking.

  • How to double mask- You can double mask using two effective methods. One is to wear a cloth mask over a surgical mask because it tightly covers the regions the surgical mask leaves open. The second technique is to knot the ear loops of a surgical mask while tucking in and flattening the excess material close to your face.
  • Ensure that you can breathe properly without any strain or difficulties.
  • Assess the fit and comfort before stepping out. Fogging of glasses or forced blinking indicates air escaping from the mask. Make sure the mask covers all areas around the nose and mouth.
  • Use masks with nose wire, mask fitter or brace for added protection.
  • It is recommended to wash used cloth masks at regular intervals.
  • Wash hands before putting on the mask.
  • Face masks need to be removed by grabbing only the ear loops and not the surface of the mask.

 

a statue, masking

The Don’ts of Double Masking

According to recent studies, double masking is effective because of its enhanced filtration and gap elimination, rather than just adding layers of masks. Here are some precautions to be taken while double masking.

  • Do not wear the same types of masks together. For instance, do not pair two surgical masks.
  • Do not combine an N95 or a KN95 mask with any other mask.
  • Do not wear the same combination of masks for consecutive days.
  • Do not use chemical disinfectants on your masks and regularly wash your cloth masks after each use.
  • Do not use the masks if there is visible damage or soiling.
  • If you’re COVID-19 positive, do not use masks with valves as the exhaled air is unfiltered and may infect others.
  • Avoid leather, vinyl or plastic masks. Use masks of the quality and material by the CDC and WHO.

Conclusion: Add Layers of Safety to Cope With the Pandemic

Records and research prove that double masking offers a more substantial barrier against the virus. A combination of cloth mask and surgical mask, the most common of double masking methods, blocks aerosol particles up to 85 per cent. This emphasizes the effectiveness of double masking.

It is critical to continue following safety parameters such as social distancing, hand hygiene and restricting interactions with large crowds. While double masking forms an essential medium to combat the pandemic, the road to recovery is possible when everyone follows all the safety guidelines.

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