Face mask provides a physical barrier to fluids and large particle droplets. Surgical mask is a type of face mask commonly used. When used properly, surgical masks can prevent infections transmitted by respiratory droplets.
People should wear a surgical mask when they have respiratory infection; when taking care of patient with respiratory infection; or when visiting clinics or hospitals during pandemic or peak season for influenza in order to reduce the spread of infection.
Points to note on wearing a surgical mask:
(a) Choose the appropriate mask size.
(b) Perform hand hygiene before putting on a surgical mask.
(c) The surgical mask should fit snugly over the face:
(i) Most surgical masks adopt a three-layer design. Wearer should follow the manufacturers’ recommendations when using surgical mask, including proper storage and procedures of putting on surgical mask (e.g. determine which side of the mask is facing outwards). In general, the 2 coloured side/the side with folds facing downwards of the surgical mask should face outwards with the metallic strip uppermost.
(ii) For tie-on surgical mask, secure upper ties at the crown of head. Then secure lower ties at the nape. For ear-loops type, position the elastic bands around both ears.
(iii) Extend the surgical mask to fully cover mouth, nose and chin.
(iv) Mould the metallic strip over nose bridge and the surgical mask should fit snugly over the face.
(d) Avoid touching the surgical mask after wearing. Otherwise, should perform hand hygiene before and after touching the mask.
(e) When taking off tie-on surgical mask, unfasten the ties at the nape first; then unfasten the ties at the crown of head. For ear-loops type, hold both the ear loops and take-off gently from face. Avoid touching the outside of surgical mask during taking-off as it may be covered with germs.
(f) After taking off the surgical mask, discard in a lidded rubbish bin and perform hand hygiene immediately.
(g) Change surgical mask timely. In general, surgical mask should not be reused. Replace the mask immediately if it is damaged or soiled.