No, wear medical mask with white side towards face

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


For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”. What should you do? First, don't delete!

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Fighting coronavirus misinformation

Africa Check is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers fighting misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic.

Learn more about the alliance here.

© Copyright Africa Check 2020. Read our republishing guidelines. You may reproduce this piece or content from it for the purpose of reporting and/or discussing news and current events. This is subject to: Crediting Africa Check in the byline, keeping all hyperlinks to the sources used and adding this sentence at the end of your publication: “This report was written by Africa Check, a non-partisan fact-checking organisation. View the original piece on their website", with a link back to this page.