Simple screw-up can let in 40 percent more viruses and pollen, manufacturer says.

There are a lot of reasons why people in Japan wear surgical masks, but two of the most common are as safeguards against sickness and hay fever. With the country right in the middle of flu season, and the pollen-heavy days of spring not far off, on any given day in the SoraNews24 office at least a couple of us are in masks…but it turns out we’ve been wearing them wrong, says Japanese mask maker Medicom.

Now look, we’ll be the first to admit that maybe we’re not the smartest collection of minds in the country, but how could we screw up wearing a surgical mask? You just put it over your mouth, loop the straps around your ears, and you’re done right? Yeah, but Medicom says how you slip those straps around your ears is important.

We, and also a lot of other people in Japan, usually wear our masks with the point wear the strap attaches to the mask facing inwards, towards our face. Having the contact point closer to our face should make for a snugger fit and tighter seal against unwanted matter, right?

According to Medicom, though, wearing your mask like that is backwards. On its website, the company says that the proper way to wear masks of this type is for the contact point for the straps to be on the outside, away from your face. Sure enough, that’s how Medicom’s model wears hers on the product page.

Minds blown, we called up Medicom to double-check, and their customer service representative politely explained why we’d been doing it wrong for so many years.

SoraNews24: Are we really supposed to wear the mask with the strap contact points on the outside?

Medicom: “Yes. There are two main reasons for that. First, if you wear it with the contact points on the inside, there’s a possibility that the glue can irritate the skin. The second reason is that the bump from the contact point creates an opening between the mask and your skin, which makes it easier for viruses and pollen to slip through.”

SN24: Are all companies’ masks supposed to be worn like that?

Medicom: “Specific cases depend on the manufacturer, but in general, yes, masks of this type should be worn with the contact points on the outside.”

SN24: So if we don’t wear our mask like that, will it affect how well it works?

Medicom: “Yes. Wearing your mask improperly can result in a 40-percent increase in the quantity of viruses and pollen that can slip by.”

40 percent?!? We’re honestly shocked, and a little heartbroken as we look back on our lives and realize we may have been suffering through a lot of days of sniffles we actually didn’t need to.

Before our conversation ended, the Medicom rep also gave us a bonus tip: when it comes time to take your mask off and throw it away, only touch it by the straps, not the mask itself. That’s because a lot of those germs and pollen your mask has been keeping away from you are still on the surface of the mask itself, and getting them on your hands and fingers is going to negate the benefits of wearing the mask in the first place.

Really, the only reason we can think of not to follow Medicom’s advice is if you just think wearing your mask that way looks too weird, but if you’re really concerned with appearances, you can always opt for a black or pink mask to earn back a few style points.

Source: Medicom
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: SoraNews24, Medicom
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