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Double Masking: How, Why, and When You Should Double Up on Face Masks

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double masking

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the world in many ways, and one of the most effective ways to reduce its spread is by wearing a face mask and personal protective equipment in healthcare workplaces. Face masks have become a crucial aspect of our daily lives, and they are now considered a common sight in public places. However, some people are now considering double masking for extra protection. In this blog post, we will discuss how, why, and when you should double up on face masks.

What is Double Masking?

Double masking involves wearing two masks together, typically combining a surgical or disposable mask with a cloth mask to prevent air from leaking around the edges. The combination of these two masks can provide an extra layer of filtration and enhance the overall effectiveness of mask-wearing.

How to Double Mask

Wearing two double masks at the same time to improve mask fit and filtration. The first mask should be a surgical mask or a cloth mask with multiple layers. The second mask should be a tightly-fitting two- or three-layer cloth mask. Make sure that the second mask fits snugly over the first mask without any gaps around the edges.

It’s important to note that double masking doesn’t mean wearing two masks of the same type. The first mask should provide good filtration, and the second mask should provide a tight fit. Wearing two masks of the same type won’t provide any extra protection against the virus.

Proper Technique for Double Masking

To ensure the maximum benefit from double masking, it is crucial to follow the correct technique:

  • Start with a surgical or disposable mask. Put on a surgical or disposable mask first, which has multiple layers and provides a higher level of filtration.

  • Add a fabric mask on top: Place a well-fitting cloth mask over the surgical mask, ensuring it covers your nose, mouth, and chin snugly. The cloth mask should have multiple layers, preferably made of tightly woven fabric.

  • Secure both masks: Adjust the second mask to minimize gaps and ensure a comfortable fit. The surgical mask should act as a foundation, while the cloth mask provides an additional layer of protection and a better seal.

  • Check for breathability. Ensure that you can breathe comfortably with both masks on. If breathing becomes too difficult, consider using different mask combinations or consulting a healthcare professional for guidance.

Why Double Mask?

Double masking can provide additional protection against the virus by improving the fit and filtration of the masks. Two masks can create a tighter seal around the face, reducing the amount of air that can escape or enter through the sides. The second mask can also provide an extra layer of filtration, blocking more particles from entering your respiratory system.

Studies have shown that double masking can significantly increase the effectiveness of masks. A recent study by the CDC found that wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask can reduce the wearer’s exposure to viral particles by up to 95%.

Add to this the complication of what experts are now calling a potential “Tripledemic” for the fall of 2023. The Tripledemic will occur for the first time this year with RSV, the Flu and Covid colliding for an overwhelmingly difficult cold and flu season this year. Double masking will help prevent the spread of these illnesses.

When to Double Mask

Double masking is not necessary for everyone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends double masking in certain situations, such as when you are in a crowded area or when you are around people who are not wearing masks. Double masking can also be helpful for people who are at higher risk of severe illness, such as older adults or those with underlying medical conditions.

It’s important to note that double masking is not a substitute for other preventive measures, such as social distancing and hand hygiene. It’s crucial to continue practicing these measures to reduce the spread of the virus.

Make Sure It Fits

Some masks are unable to cover the face perfectly. You may also be aware of air escaping from inside the mask as you breathe. Its imperfect seal allows airborne virus droplets to escape your mask. Double masking reduces the likelihood that such an event occurs. The outer mask is sensitive to pressure applied by an external mask on the inside edge. If this occurs, it will fit more comfortably on your skin and create an improved seal.

Choose a mask with a nose wire

See a mask that has inner mask of wire on it. The wire is bent for a smoother fit over the nose of you. Use of masking wires can also prevent the eyeglasses from fogging, which blocks your view.

Cloth face Masks

Cloth face masks are commonly used by the general public as a preventive measure against the spread of infectious diseases, particularly respiratory infections like the flu or COVID-19. They are not medical-grade masks, but they can offer some degree of protection, especially when used in combination with other preventive measures such as frequent hand washing and maintaining physical distance from others. Medical procedure masks, such as surgical masks or N95 respirators, are designed to provide a certain level of filtration and protection. However, they may not fit perfectly on everyone’s face, and there may be gaps around the edges that could allow unfiltered air to enter.

By placing a cloth covering on top of a medical procedure mask, you may be able to improve fit and filtration. Cloth masks are generally made of multiple layers of fabric, which can act as a barrier and help reduce the transmission of respiratory droplets. The combination of a well-fitting medical procedure disposable or cloth mask, and an additional cloth mask can create a more effective seal and enhance overall protection.

Knot and tuck mask ear loops

Using the cloth mask the particle is blocked by 50% during simulation coughs. The mask has been designed with knots and ties that prevent 87 per cent of the aerosol particles, the CDC has said. The ear loops are pulled back, twisted behind, and tied so they can fit more comfortably,” Dr Srinivas added. Most surgery masks are one piece of the same and want to improve your facial appearance. It also reduces the spread to other people.

Remember to wash cloth masks

It is crucial to remember to wash cloth masks regularly to ensure their effectiveness in preventing the spread of germs. By washing your cloth face mask, you remove any accumulated dirt, oils, and particles that may have collected on the surface. This simple act helps maintain the cloth mask covering’s breathability and filtration capabilities, allowing it to continue providing a reliable barrier against airborne contaminants. Additionally, regular washing helps eliminate any potential odors that may develop over time, ensuring a fresh and clean cloth mask covering for each use. Remember to follow the recommended washing instructions provided by the manufacturer or use hot water and detergent to effectively clean your cloth mask. Taking this small step can significantly contribute to personal and public health by reducing the risk of infection transmission.

OSHA Regulation

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides general guidance and standards for workplace safety, including recommendations related to respiratory protection. OSHA’s respiratory protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134) requires employers to assess workplace hazards and provide appropriate respiratory protection if necessary.

Effective masking is crucial to reducing the spread of infectious diseases and protecting the health and well-being of individuals and communities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for example, have suggested that double masking with a cloth mask over a medical procedure mask can improve wearer’s protection. However, these recommendations are not specific to OSHA regulations.

Conclusion

Double masking can provide extra protection against the virus, but it is not necessary for everyone. If you choose to double mask, make sure that the two disposable masks fit snugly over your nose and mouth, without any gaps around the edges. Remember to continue practicing other preventive measures, such as social distancing and hand hygiene, to reduce the spread of the virus. Stay safe and healthy!

Frequently Asked About Double Masking

Q: Is it safe to wear two masks at the same time?

A: Yes, it is safe to wear two masks at the same time if you do it correctly. Make sure that the second mask fits snugly over the first mask, without any gaps around the edges. Also, make sure that you can breathe comfortably while wearing both masks.

Q: Which face shields are recommended to wear masks prevent the spread of COVID-19 or other airborne illnesses?

A: This is a CDC recommendation for a plastic shield extending under the chin to cover a person. Hooded fabric masks and face shields provide additional protection for COVID19.

Q: Do I need to double mask if I already wear a high-quality mask?

A: If you already wear a high-quality mask, double masking may not be necessary. However, if you are in a crowded area or around people who are not wearing masks, double masking can provide extra protection.

Sources

https://www.bu.edu/sph/news/articles/2022/rsv-flu-and-covid-19-understanding-todays-tripledemic/

https://www.envirosafetyproducts.com/respirators-safety-protection/particulate-respirators/health-care-respirators.html

https://www.envirosafetyproducts.com/respirators-safety-protection/particulate-respirators/r95-p95-respirators.html

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7007e1.htm#F1_down:~:text=During%20January%202021%2C%20CDC%20conducted%20various,three%2015%2Dminute%20runs%20were%20completed

https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910/1910.134

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