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The safe, healthy way to remove a face mask

Health care professionals are concerned people might be accidentally contaminating themselves when they take off their face masks.

TAMPA, Fla. — To slow the spread of the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends you wear some sort of cloth face mask when you’re out in public.

Health care professionals are using social media platforms like TikTok to show people the right way to remove disposable gloves and face masks.

Professor Annette Bourgault said she’s concerned that people who choose to wear face masks might be accidentally contaminating themselves when they take off their masks incorrectly. Bourgault is a critical care researcher at UCF College of Nursing.

“Anybody wearing a mask has to think about the outside of the mask as being a potentially dirty zone. And the inside being a clean zone,” she said.

How to remove your face mask properly

Most people make the mistake of removing their mask from the front. However, in the "how-to videos," health care professionals are removing their masks starting from behind the ear.

“When they take the mask off, they need to be very careful about how they handle it,” Bourgault said. “For example, you don’t want to come home and take the mask off and put it on the kitchen counter. You may want to designate a spot for it. Some people are using plastic containers that you store food as a temporary holding zone until they can wash it.”

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Precautions : The content in the pictures may not be accurate. Please revise the content before use.

Depending on the quality of the face mask, Bourgault said you can wash your hands in warm soapy water and let it air dry or toss it in the washing machine and dryer.

And, if you need to leave your house more than once, she also suggests that you have more than one mask with you at all times.

“But then again we are asked to minimize our trips from our homes as needed. If we’re not working outside the home, then we should be staying home," Bourgault said.

Did you know?

The CDC’s guidelines state cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under the age of 2, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.


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