Wearing a protective mask is one of your best defences against COVID-19. But wearing your mask incorrectly might just be as dangerous as not wearing a mask at all.

The US government is encouraging all Americans to wear a mask to protect themselves from getting infected with the COVID-19. What it does is lessen chances of contracting the disease, especially from asymptomatic carriers who can spread the virus without knowing it.

For most individuals, the cloth mask is the best option for many reasons, but proper use is important to make sure it works well. By avoiding these common mistakes when wearing masks, you may save a life or two amid the rampage of the coronavirus pandemic.

1. Wearing masks that were already used 

According to Geoffrey Mount Varner, a Maryland-based emergency medicine physician, one of the most common errors is wearing a mask that is already contaminated. If you take it off and put it anywhere, you've just given the COVID-19 other ways to infect other people.

Cloth masks need sanitizing and washing to decontaminate it, in between use. This saves lives, including the wearers.

2. Touching mask with dirty hands

Contaminating face masks with your dirty hands will get anyone sick, said physician Dimitar Marinov, MD, PhD. Removing the mask will bring the virus closer to the mouth, and bacteria with pathogens can easily make its way into your body.

The solution is to disinfect hands before wearing or taking off your mask. Avoid touching your face too, especially when you're in public.

3. Never wear the same mask, for the entire day!

Ideally, have two masks and disinfectant ready to cycle them for two hours each. Any longer than this and you will lessen the mask's efficiency in protecting you against the virus. As insurance, make sure to have at least 2 masks ready for use.

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4. Does the mask cover everything?

 According to Marinov, an ill-fitting mask is useless and will just get the wearer infected because of improper covering. So, get a mask with good coverage and protect yourself from COVID-19.

The mask should fit the nose to the bottom of the chin for maximum coverage. It should be breathable as well, without gaps.

5. Always wear it before entering a crowded places

Rafael Lugo, a general surgeon, says that everyone should pratice wearing a clean mask before going out in public. Keep this in mind, because it might just save your life and others too!

6. Don't be too trusting of face masks

Wearing face masks is not the only way to protect yourself. According to experts, social distancing and proper hygiene are also great in keeping coronavirus at bay. Remember, a mask is just a preventive.

7. Never douse it with chemicals too much.

Cleaning is not bad, but dousing it too much is a no-no. Just spritz it and it is good to go, never saturate it with strong chemicals.

8. Never make the mask too wet!

Masks are meant to be worn dry and getting it wet will allow the pathogens to get through. According to experts, always keep it dry and away from wet areas.

9. Wear the mask the right way

Mask should be worn the proper way, to filter pathogen properly and avoid getting infected. For surgical mask, the blue side should be worn on the outside.

10. All masks are not created equal.

An N-95 mask is for health workers that keep 95% of bacteria and viruses out, as long as it's fitted properly. Surgical masks are for stopping droplets from infecting people around you.

Now that you're aware of these 10 common mistakes, spread the word so others can be aware too.

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