While face masks can help reduce the spread of the flu and other respiratory viruses, they only do so if worn correctly and frequently.
Here are some guidelines for proper mask wearing:
Wear a face mask when coming within 6 feet of a sick person.
Position the strings to keep the mask firmly in place over the nose, mouth, and chin. Try not to touch the mask again until you remove it.
Wear a face mask before going near other people if you have the flu.
If you have the flu and need to see a doctor, wear a face mask to protect others in the waiting area.
Consider wearing a mask in crowded settings if the flu is widespread in your community, or if you’re at high risk for flu complications.
When you’re done wearing a surgical face mask or respirator, throw it away and wash your hands. Never reuse it.
Wash your cloth face mask after each use.
The average masks you can buy from a local drugstore aren’t enough to filter out viruses.
For that purpose, experts recommend special masks with fine mesh that can capture very small organisms. These also have to be worn correctly for them to work.
Masks worn over the face are also unable to protect you from getting airborne virus particles, from a cough or sneeze, into your eyes.