Does your face mask protection fit properly? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidelines with more information on how you can ensure that your face mask offers adequate protection against COVID-19.
The main theme in the update? A proper fit is imperative for proper COVID-19 protection. More specifically, the CDC states that your mask should fit "snugly against your face" to protect yourself as well as others from exposure to respiratory droplets that could potentially carry the coronavirus.
As new, more contagious variants of the coronavirus continue circulating around the world, a face mask that fits you properly is more crucial than ever before. It's your first line of defense against this deadly pandemic virus, and if it doesn't fit well, "you’re not breathing through the mask — you’re breathing mostly around it," says infectious disease expert and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine professor William Schaffner, M.D.
How to Ensure Your Face Mask Protection Fits Properly
Make sure your face mask or neck gaiter is comprised of at least two layers of breathable fabric. It should cover your nose and mouth completely, and it should extend across your cheeks and under your chin snugly. If you find yourself constantly adjusting your mask, then that's a telltale sign it doesn't fit properly.
Since everyone has a different facial profile, there is no one-size-fits-all face mask. So experts recommend that you test the fit of your face mask and adjust it as needed. Here are some tests you can run at home to ensure your face mask fit is up to snuff.
1. Check for Side Gaps
Side gaps are a common issue for people with small facial profiles. After putting on your face mask, feel around it to check its snugness and identify any openings. It should lay firmly across your nose bridge, cheeks, and chin. Can you fit a finger in any side of the mask? Then it's not tight enough.
Want to eliminate any gaps you found? Wash your hands first. Next, fold your mask in half. Then tie a knot into each ear loop as close as you can to the mask's corner. Then tuck the sides into it. Try it on and see if the gaps are gone. If not, try adjusting your knots.
2. Be Cognizant of Airflow
Does the air inside your mask feel warm on your skin? That's a good sign according to Dr. Schaffner. If you feel cool air currents, then your mask either has gaps or doesn't have enough layers for proper filtration.
If you found no need to do the previous test or already took care of the air gaps, then consider doubling up on masking. This is especially recommended if you're in a high-risk area such as a crowded grocery store. More specifically, the CDC recommends layering a cloth face mask on a surgical mask. Basically, this lets the bottom mask act as more of a filter.
After doing this, check if you can still see and breathe comfortably. If not, consider swapping out one of your masks for another.
3. Test Your Smell
Smell tests are commonly conducted to ensure that N95 respirators fit properly. As its name implies, wearers are asked if they can smell anything while they have the mask on. Cloth masks are unlikely to block out your sense of smell completely. But you will most likely have a "dampened sense of smell while wearing your mask," according to Dr. Schaffner.
Conduct this experiment by trying to smell a strong scent. Something like a lemon or orange will do. Put it at arm's length away from your body before donning your face mask. Once your mask is on, see if you can smell the scent. At the very least, it should now seem less potent than before; this is a sign that your mask has enough layers and fits properly over your nose and mouth.
4. Check for Foggy Glasses
Got glasses? If you've been experiencing the unfortunate side effect of foggy lenses, then your face mask doesn't fit well over your nose. People who don't normally wear glasses can run this test with sunglasses. The test is as simple as it seems — just put on your mask and your glasses, breathe, and see if your lenses fog up.
If you're seeing some fog on your lenses, try adjusting your mask's nose wire so that it fits more firmly across your nose bridge. Also, tighten your strap to get rid of any gaps as we outline in step 1. Still seeing fog? The CDC states that a solid or silicone mask fitter could help prevent airflow from seeping through your gaps.
Get a Face Mask that Fits and Will Last a Long Time!
We hope you've enjoyed this brief guide on how to ensure your face mask fits properly. If you still find that your face mask protection is inadequate, then it's probably time to upgrade. As mentioned before, you should strive to find a face mask that has a nose wire, comes with multiple layers, and is made of breathable material. Fortunately, all of Gaiter King's products fit the bill!
Besides the above-mentioned benefits, all Gaiter King face masks and neck gaiters are treated with a medical-grade antimicrobial solution that kills 99.9% of microbes. This treatment is guaranteed to last more than 100 washes. Talk about durable! Now you know why the construction, agricultural, and logistics industries trust Gaiter King to get the job done.
Want durable neck gaiters or face masks that offer antimicrobial and antiviral protection? Check out our shop!