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In partnership with medical experts, we developed a safety & style guide for all your non-medical-grade face masks questions. From our family, to yours.
Wear It Well: Face Mask Guide. In partnership with medical experts, we developed a safety & style guide for all your non-medical-grade face mask questions. From our family, to yours.
In partnership with medical experts, we developed a safety & style guide for all your non-medical-grade face masks questions. From our family, to yours.
Wear It Well: Face Mask Guide. In partnership with medical experts, we developed a safety & style guide for all your non-medical-grade face mask questions. From our family, to yours.
In partnership with medical experts, we developed a safety & style guide for all your non-medical-grade face masks questions. From our family, to yours.
Wear It Well: Face Mask Guide. In partnership with medical experts, we developed a safety & style guide for all your non-medical-grade face mask questions. From our family, to yours.
In partnership with medical experts, we developed a safety & style guide for all your non-medical-grade face masks questions. From our family, to yours.
Wear It Well: Face Mask Guide. In partnership with medical experts, we developed a safety & style guide for all your non-medical-grade face mask questions. From our family, to yours.
In partnership with medical experts, we developed a safety & style guide for all your non-medical-grade face masks questions. From our family, to yours.
Wear It Well: Face Mask Guide. In partnership with medical experts, we developed a safety & style guide for all your non-medical-grade face mask questions. From our family, to yours.
In partnership with medical experts, we developed a safety & style guide for all your non-medical-grade face masks questions. From our family, to yours.
Wear It Well: Face Mask Guide. In partnership with medical experts, we developed a safety & style guide for all your non-medical-grade face mask questions. From our family, to yours.
 

What is a face mask?

Amanda Sammann, M.D., M.P.H.
Assistant Professor in Residence, UCSF Department of Surgery &
Founder and Executive Director, Emergency Design Collective

There are masks, and then there are medical-grade masks. While our masks are non-medical-grade, they follow CDC guidelines for recommended face coverings—anything that fully and securely covers your nose and mouth works. Surgical masks or other medical-grade coverings should be saved for doctors and nurses.

 

Why should I wear a mask?

Amanda Sammann, M.D., M.P.H.
Assistant Professor in Residence, UCSF Department of Surgery &
Founder and Executive Director, Emergency Design Collective

It’s really a sign of responsibility and respect. Face masks prevent droplets that can spread the coronavirus from infecting those around us when we speak, sneeze, or cough. When you wear a face mask, you’re telling your community you care about their safety and are doing what you can to keep them well.
Visit the CDC website for more information on how face masks keep you safe.

 

What are the best ways to put my mask on, and take it off?

Amanda Sammann, M.D., M.P.H.
Assistant Professor in Residence, UCSF Department of Surgery &
Founder and Executive Director, Emergency Design Collective

You should assume that your mask will get germs on it anytime you leave the house, so to reduce risk, take care whenever you put your mask on or take it off. Here’s how it’s done: Always clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer before you touch your mask, even when you’re putting it on. Make sure it’s secure so it won’t slip while you’re wearing it, especially if you’re talking. You should be comfortable speaking and breathing in your mask so using it becomes second nature. Clean your hands again before removing. Avoid touching the outside of your mask and use the ties at the back of your head or the loops behind your ears to slip it off. Ideally, only touch the back of your mask when you take it off.
A UCSF Emergency Care Doctor can tell us when to wear a mask and how to do it right.   

 

How should my mask fit?

Amanda Sammann, M.D., M.P.H.
Assistant Professor in Residence, UCSF Department of Surgery &
Founder and Executive Director, Emergency Design Collective

The most important thing about a face mask is that you wear it. And what’s going to make all the difference is if your mask fits comfortably and you can breathe so you cover up every time you leave home. You also don’t want to have to adjust it while you’re out, so make sure it fits securely over the nose and mouth even when you’re talking. The ties should be long enough to fit around your head, and people with beards may need a little extra fabric or a larger sized mask so it doesn’t feel tight. Breathable fabric will go a long way to making this a more pleasant experience.
The CDC has additional recommendations for how to best wear your mask.

 

What features should I look for in a face mask?

Nick Dawson, Co-Founder, Emergency Design Collective
Former Executive Director of Innovation, Kaiser Permanente

This is all new information, so the learning curve can be steep. The most important thing to remember is comfort. If it isn’t comfortable, you probably won’t wear it, so look for a mask that’s soft and not too thick so you don’t have difficulty breathing. It should also fit snugly without slipping, especially when you talk. Secure ties and loops that go around our ears help with fit, as does having a seal around the bridge of the nose. We’ve all heard about N95 masks, but those should be saved for healthcare professionals. We also don’t need masks with filters, since those allow air to pass through the mask when we really need a barrier to prevent that.

 

What type of mask do I need?

Amanda Sammann, M.D., M.P.H.
Assistant Professor in Residence, UCSF Department of Surgery &
Founder and Executive Director, Emergency Design Collective

Medical-grade masks are approved for use by healthcare professionals, which most of us aren’t, so any covering that acts as a barrier is fine. And because we need that barrier, masks that have filters aren’t helpful because they allow air or fluid through. The most important purpose of the mask is to stop air or fluids from passing to other people. A simple non-medical grade face covering like a bandana, scarf, or store-bought mask provides the necessary coverage. Look around your community to see what other people are wearing. You might get some great ideas.

 

How should I clean and store my mask?

Amanda Sammann, M.D., M.P.H.
Assistant Professor in Residence, UCSF Department of Surgery &
Founder and Executive Director, Emergency Design Collective

Anytime you wear a mask, it’s going to get germs on it, so keep a clean bag and extra masks in your car and you’re always ready to go. If you’re leaving a public place like the grocery store and want to remove your mask, what’s the right way? First, use hand sanitizer before you slip it off. Then, only touch the ties at the back of your head or the loops behind your ears to carefully remove your mask. Fold it inwards on itself so what was facing out is touching and tuck it in a paper bag for the drive home. A little more hand sanitizer, and you’re ready to go. At home, empty the paper bag directly into your laundry and wash your hands with soap and water.
The CDC has guidelines you can follow.

 

How can I wear a mask with my glasses?

Amanda Sammann, M.D., M.P.H.
Assistant Professor in Residence, UCSF Department of Surgery &
Founder and Executive Director, Emergency Design Collective

Anyone who wears glasses will tell you about the annoying fog factor when they pull on a mask. But doctors and nurses have come up with best practices to help keep your lenses clear. Face coverings with a seal around the bridge of your nose are best. One way to do this is by attaching a paperclip or piece of wire (like from an old wire hanger) over your nose. Using tape or band aids to seal your mask to your face also works well. The key is to stay comfortable.

 

How can I get my kids to wear their masks?

Amanda Sammann, M.D., M.P.H.
Assistant Professor in Residence, UCSF Department of Surgery &
Founder and Executive Director, Emergency Design Collective

It’s important for anyone over the age of two to wear masks when they might come within six feet of people who don’t live in the same house. This can be especially tough for kids, but it can be done. By making mask-wearing a new daily habit, like brushing their teeth, kids will get used to it just being a part of their routine. Make it easy for them by placing clean masks by the door. And having masks in fun colors or prints never hurt. Depending on their age, talking to kids about germs can help them understand why masks have suddenly become part of their days. And by wearing a mask yourself, or even putting one on their toys, it can make them less scary. One big concern is having a mask that won’t be a choking hazard. You also want to be sure your child doesn’t touch their face more because they’re wearing the mask. If you see that happening, staying socially distant might be the safer option.
Masks aren’t recommended for children under the age of two but other than that, the same rules apply to kids’ face masks. They should be snug but comfortable. The American Academy of Pediatrics has more suggestions.

 

Should I wear a mask while working out?

Amanda Sammann, M.D., M.P.H.
Assistant Professor in Residence, UCSF Department of Surgery &
Founder and Executive Director, Emergency Design Collective

If you can’t stay six feet away from people, then yes, you should wear a mask while working out. Pay attention to your breathing and look for signs that you might not be getting enough air, like feeling light-headed, dizzy, or short-of-breath. Anyone with underlying respiratory or cardiovascular conditions should speak with their doctor first before exercising with a mask.

These general recommendations are not a replacement for personal advise from your doctor. If you have any specific questions or concerns regarding your health, please consult your physician or a local medical provider near you.