Experts advise on do's and don'ts of face masks
New Delhi: Do you know how safe are your face masks and how to use them? According to doctors, using poor quality face masks and wearing them improperly make people more vulnerable to the swine flu that has left 15 people dead across India and affected over 1,000.
According to doctors, people should avoid panic buying of face masks as they are not for everyone and there are proper ways to wear, remove and dispose them.
"Not everyone needs to wear the masks. Only those who have flu-like symptoms like cough and cold should wear them," Randeep Guleria, head of medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), told IANS.
He said people should cover their mouth and nose with a handkerchief and should also use tissue paper when they cough or sneeze. Women can also use their dupatta.
"But those going to hospital or in crowded areas should wear masks as there are chances of catching infections. It should however be made clear that wearing a mask will not keep you 100 percent safe," he added.
Doctors warn against reusing face masks for it makes the user more vulnerable to the infection.
"Never reuse the face masks and dispose them after first use. Do not hang your masks around the neck - like many doctors do - and avoid keeping it in pockets and bags. The virus sticking in the external layer of masks can spread further by touching it with hands or storing it," S. Chatterjee, senior consultant in the department of internal medicine with Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, told IANS.
According to scientists, before buying a face mask just ensure that it has a filter that stops the virus from passing through face mask.
The face masks with bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE) above 95 percent are the safest ones.
BFE measures the percent efficiency at which the face mask filters bacteria passing through the mask.
"Generally the face masks available in the market do not have proper filters and it is no use wearing them," said a research scientist.
Doctors says there are several things that should be kept in mind while using face masks like washing hands before wearing and after removing it.
"The mask should be worn in such a manner that the nose and mouth is properly covered. People should be safe behind the mask. It should be tied in a manner that there are no openings as infection could easily enter the body," he said.
Guleria said there are three types of masks - single-layered (surgical mask), three-layered mask and the N95.
"The N95 masks are considered to be the best as they offer 95 percent protection from virus. The side that touches users' faces should not be touched. They should tie and take it off without touching that side. It should be disposed off immediately and thrown in the dustbin.
The same thing should be done to the tissue paper. The tissue should not be kept on the table.
The infection is easier to spread that way. They should not lie around," said Guleria.
H1N1 Swine Flu in India – Special Report on MSN India