• Podiatry Plus

Essential guide: How to wear a face mask safely (with pictures)


How to wear and remove a face mask

Face masks are quickly becoming the new normal. We now find ourselves checking if we have a mask along with phone, keys and wallet before leaving the house.

As healthcare practitioners, wearing a mask is quite common as we are trained to wear face masks safely and effectively. For those who are not trained, wearing a face mask in a non-appropriate way can make the mask ineffective and put the wearer at a greater risk of catching the Covid-19 virus.


The point of wearing a face mask is to create a protective barrier that prevents a healthy person from inhaling droplets that carry the Covid-19 virus. The mask also stops a carrier from projecting infecting droplets when speaking or coughing. So, for the barrier to work, a face mask must be put on safely and effectively.

In this article, we provide simple instructions for how to wear and remove both surgical and fabric masks. These are the same instructions, followed by healthcare workers and approved by the World Health Organisation.

What’s the difference between surgical and fabric face masks?

Surgical masks, sometimes called medical masks, are regulated products that are

designed to protect against air borne droplets, splashes or sprays of bodily fluids.

Medical masks are usually single-use only (unless specified otherwise by the manufacturer), they're not washable and must be discarded safely after use.

Fabric masks, also known as cloth or non-medical masks, are not regulated products and their effectiveness hasn’t been tested. They are thought to be effective by reducing the spread of the wearer's droplets but not effective in stopping the wearer from inhaling droplets. These can be washed and reused, unlike medical masks.