This Is When You Shouldn't Double Mask, CDC Says

Layering your masks can protect you from COVID, but it isn't always the right choice.

Double masking was recently endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with the agency noting that it's just one way to improve the fit and filtration of your mask. A tighter fitting mask will help prevent potentially contaminated respiratory droplets from leaking out of your mask, which could infect others and heighten the spread of COVID overall. And improving the filtration of your mask will also help protect you from breathing in contaminated droplets from others, blocking them with higher efficiency. However, double masking is not the right choice in every situation. Keep reading to find out when the CDC warns against double making, and for more guidance on what not to do, If You're Layering These Masks, the CDC Says to Stop Immediately.

You should not double mask if you find it is too hard for you to breathe.

Mature Man with Protective Gloves and Face Mask is Feeling a Symptoms of Coronavirus During a City Walk. Business Person with a Pain in the Chest.
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When it comes to layering your masks for better fit and filtration, the CDC says there are some things you need to watch out for. If you find that breathing is too difficult after you've layered your masks, you may need to stop double masking or find different masks to use. The CDC notes that "breathing might take more effort when wearing a mask that fits and filters better." Not only is this breathing issue potentially dangerous, but it also might make you more likely to take off your mask from time to time, exposing you to possible contamination. And for more on mask safety, If You See This on Your Mask, the FDA Says Toss It Immediately.

You should also not double mask if your vision is affected.

Portrait of Young Woman Cleaning her Glasses from Fog when wearing Protective Mask
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According to the CDC, adding an extra mask to double mask could actually block your vision. If your vision is obstructed, you may need to stop double masking or find different masks to layer that won't affect your eyesight. As the CDC points out, "reduced vision could lead to trips, falls, or other injuries." And for more from this agency, The CDC Is Warning You Not to Do This Right Before You Get Vaccinated.

You shouldn't use two disposable masks to double mask.

Young woman in warm winter clothing wearing pink disposable virus face mask, putting another one on - some advise that two layers provides better protection again coronavirus covid-19 spread
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The CDC says that there are also some "mask combinations" that you should avoid when trying to double mask. According to the agency, you should not double-up on disposable medical procedure masks. After all, these masks "are not designed to fit tightly" and wearing one on top of another won't do anything to improve the fit of your mask. However, the CDC does recommend layering a cloth mask on top of a disposable medical mask, as this method "provided much better protection to the wearer and to others," as compared to wearing either of these masks on their own. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

You shouldn't use KN95 masks when double masking.

white KN95 or N95 mask for protection pm 2.5 and corona virus isolated on grey background. Prevention of the spread of virus and pandemic COVID-19.
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The CDC warns against layering KN95 masks as well. According to the agency, "you should only use one KN95 mask at a time." Not only that, but the CDC also says that you should not wear any other type of mask on top or underneath a KN95 mask. As Paul Hickey, president of PuraVita Medical, a company that manufactures KN95 masks, and Sam Barone, MD, chief medical officer of BioPharma and president of Halodine, previously explained to Best Life, this could be because layering KN95 masks may make it harder to breathe and could alter the fit, resulting in it being less effective and potentially dangerous. And for more mask concerns, The CDC Just Issued a Warning About This Kind of Face Mask.

The CDC says you should try double masking at home first.

Girl wearing two masks
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Double masking may seem like an inviting way to ensure that you are extra protected, but all these possible mishaps could just cause trouble. To ensure that you are double masking in a way that is safe and effective, the CDC recommends that you try out it out at home first before going out in public.

"Try walking around the house or outside for several minutes while wearing a mask with improved fit and filtration to assure that you can breathe comfortably and that your vision is not reduced," the CDC recommends. And to make sure you're staying as safe as possible, The CDC Says This Is How to Know Your Mask Is Working.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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