Masks need to cover the nose and be form fitted around the nose. Wearing a mask over your mouth and not covering the nose is worse than useless.

If you walk through a cloud of virus and the mask does its job, the virus will accumulate on the surface of mask. The more you touch the mask with your hands, the more you risk your own infection. It is no different than touching any other contaminated surface. Avoid touching the mask itself and adjust or remove it only with the ear straps.

Since the mask cannot be sterilized or washed, the current recommendation from the CDC is to have 3 masks. Wear one a day and rotate them. The virus will only live on the mask for 72 hours so after 3 days you can go back and use the original mask again. To store the mask, place it in a paper bag until the next use.

Peter Jenkin, MD, FAAD, FRCPC
Board-Certified Dermatologist
Dermatology Associates of Seattle

Peter Jenkin, Clinic Director and Board-Certified Dermatologist at Dermatology Associates of Seattle is available for consultation. For scheduling and information, visit us at