Surgical masks are designed to be worn in one direction only. However, it can be difficult to know which way side the face mask should go. Should the blue side face out, or in? Some face masks are white or black all over, which way round should these face masks go?
In this post, we’ll cover the correct way to wear a surgical face mask, and why it’s important to make sure you’re wearing it the correct way round.
Most Surgical Masks Are Made of Three Layers
Surgical masks are most commonly made up of three layers. These are:
1. Outer fluid-repellent layer: Typically colored , this layer repels fluid, helping to reduce the chance that viruses and bacteria from the air attach to the mask.
2. High-efficiency filter middle layer: The middle layer is what does the hard work in capturing viruses and bacteria. Any particles which get past the outside layers are filtered here.
3. Absorbent layer: The inner layer captures and absorbs moisture, reducing the chance of any mucus or bacteria from leaving the mask when the wearer coughs or talks.
With this information in hand, it now should be easier to determine just which way round to wear a surgical mask.
A Simple Guide To Wearing A Surgical Face Mask Correctly
First of all, if you have the instruction manual then you should check it out. If not, or your surgical mask didn’t come with any instructions, you can follow these simple rules:
1. Colored side Goes on the Outside
Typically, the fluid repellent layer of a surgical mask is colored side. That means, the coloured side should face out.
If your mask has the same color on both sides, move on to the next rule.
2. Soft side towards the face
Some masks have the same for both sides of the masks. Some are even white all, like this one.
For these masks that are white on both sides, you can use the feel of the material to determine which way round to wear the mask. The side that is softer to touch is the moisture absorbent layer and goes towards your face. The rougher layer is the moisture repellent layer, that faces outwards.
3. Folds facing downwards with nose bridge on top
In general, the coloured side/the side with folds facing downwards of the surgical mask should face outwards with the metallic strip uppermost
Don’t Use Mask Ear Loops as an Indicator for Mask Direction
It may seem like a smart idea to use the straps as an indication of which way to wear a surgical mask.
How to Wear Surgical Masks
Following these simple steps will ensure your surgical mask is fitted properly:
- 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.
- Extend the surgical up above the nose and down to the chin. Make sure it fully covers the mouth, nose, and chin.
- Bend the metallic strip at the top of the mask over nose bridge. The surgical mask should sit snuggly to the face.
- Avoid touching the surgical mask after putting it on. If you do, wash your hands afterwards.
- Discard used masks in the garbage and wash your hands.
- Standard practice is to replace surgical masks after each use. But if supplies are limited, replace masks that are dirty or damaged.
A handy guide from the Singaporean government explains the steps for wearing a surgical mask.
Chp.gov.hk. 2020. [online] Available at: <https://www.chp.gov.hk/files/pdf/use_mask_properly.pdf> [Accessed 26 August 2020].
Smart Air. 2020. Which Way Round Should A Surgical Mask Be Worn? – Smart Air. [online] Available at: <https://smartairfilters.com/en/blog/which-way-round-should-i-wear-my-surgical-face-mask/> [Accessed 26 August 2020].