A Facebook post from March 2019 claims that a medical facemask, often called a surgical mask, should be worn with the “coloured side out” to prevent spreading germs.
“When using a medical mask, you are supposed to use it as follows,” it says.
“Coloured side out if you’re sick and do not want to spread germs around. White side out (this is the filter part) for when you’re not sick and you want to stop germs from getting in.”
Is this a useful tip to stop the spread of diseases?
Masks don’t stop you breathing particles in air
Medical masks prevent large droplets of bodily fluids, which might contain viruses, from escaping from the nose and mouth, said Dr Tochi Okwor, head of infection prevention at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
She told Africa Check the masks also protect the wearer from the bodily fluids of other people, such as from sneezes or coughs.
“These masks don’t prevent the inhalation of airborne particles. The side of the mask that has a stiff bendable edge is the top and is meant to mould to the shape of your nose. The coloured side of the mask is usually the front and should face away from you, while the white side touches your face because it can absorb moisture.”
Airborne transmission can be prevented, she added, by using the “N95 mask and other types of respirators”.
An N95 mask is a respirator that blocks at least 95% of small test particles, according to the US Food and Drug Administration. A surgical mask should be worn coloured side out, and only protects against bodily fluids, not airborne disease-carrying particles. – Motunrayo Joel
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