Health authorities and experts have been recommending wearing face masks in public places to help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, while some people also use gloves to boost their protection against the coronavirus. But these materials could also lead to exposure to the virus.
Droplets released when people cough or sneeze can stay on various objects for hours, including face masks and gloves. While they block the virus, bringing home the contaminated items could expose you or other people if used or removed improperly.
“They can be directly inhaled or land on a surface where we pick them up on our hands before touching our faces,” Maximilian de Courten and Vasso Apostolopoulos, of Victoria University, and Barbora de Courten, of Monash University, said in an article posted on the Conversation.
The experts said there are certain actions “that could defeat the purpose of wearing a mask.” Some people touch the mask while wearing it or pull their mask under their chin for a “breather,” which both may transfer the virus directly to or from your hands.
To help people avoid exposure to the novel coronavirus, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued guidelines for wearing and removing face masks:
- Wash your hands with soap and water before putting on the mask and after taking it off.
- If your mask has ties, fix the bottom ties first with a bow around the nape of your neck. Then pull the mask by the upper ties over your mouth and chin and secure it around your head.
- When removing the mask, start from behind and do not touch the front of the mask.
- Always assume there could be virus on both sides of the mask. Avoid touching it when on your face.
- Wash your reusable mask every time you remove it. Use warm water in the washing machine.
- Make sure you wear a clean mask when going outside.
Gloves To Avoid COVID-19
Health workers use gloves to improve their defense against the coronavirus. But authorities do not recommend a pair for the average citizen due to lower risk of contracting the virus compared to those in hospitals and other facilities that manage COVID-19 patients.
“The virus is not absorbed through the skin, so you can’t contract COVID-19 through touch alone,” the experts said. “To acquire coronavirus through touch, you would have to touch a contaminated surface and then touch your face.”
In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing gloves only when cleaning areas at home where someone is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19. The agency also said frontliners working with infected patients should use gloves.
How To Remove Gloves
- Grasp the outside of one glove at the wrist. But do not touch your bare skin.
- Peel the glove away from your hand, pulling it inside out.
- Hold the glove you just removed in your other hand.
- Peel off the second glove by putting your fingers inside the glove at the top of your wrist.
- Turn the second glove inside out, leaving the first glove inside.
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds after removing the gloves.