Masks 101: SC Doctor answers the most asked questions about mask-wearing


MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – United Healthcare’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Lucinda DeMarco is urging South Carolinians to wear face masks properly and explains why it’s important to do so.

How does wearing a mask help stop the spread of the virus?

“The big thing is this virus is airborne,” said Dr. DeMarco. “When you talk, you exhale, you breathe out, but you also spit when you talk too. And if you have the virus, it’s in those particles and so you’re basically spraying them.”

In reference to people not understanding why the face mask is important, Dr. DeMarco said, “this prevents a large quantity of air and spit basically, coming into your mucus membranes where the primary source is your eyes, your nose, and your mouth.”

Dr. DeMarco said she’s seen people not wearing face masks properly and explains the importance of doing so.

How do you properly wear a mask?

“That you are covering completely your nose area and your mouth and that there are not areas where air can get in from the side,” said Dr. DeMarco.

Dr. DeMarco said germs can spread if you don’t put the mask on and take it off properly. When putting the mask on and taking it off.

“You have to be careful when you go to take it off you wanna basically take it off and bring it down,” said Dr. DeMarco.  She added to not let the mask hang below your chin because that can cause germs when you put it back on.

Dr. DeMarco said, “you have to assume that this is contaminated and that’s the whole piece to all of this.”

How can you wear a mask with glasses on?

For people who wear glasses, Dr. DeMarco said, “If you do wear glasses make sure you put the mask on first and then put your glasses on.”

Should you put an extra filter in your mask?

Dr. DeMarco said an extra precaution people who wear cloth masks can take is to put a coffee filter or paper towel in the pocket of the mask. “And that helps to absorb some of that moisture which may give you a longer time to wear the mask.”

Dr. DeMarco said if you do this, to change the filter everyday when you clean the mask.

How often should you clean the mask?

“I would clean your mask at least everyday,” said Dr. DeMarco.

She said when you wash it, to put a drop of Clorox on the mask too. “Clorox kills this virus so it’s a good way to totally clean your mask.”

To avoid shrinking of the mask, Dr. DeMarco said to not put them in the washing machine. Instead, air dry it.

How long is it safe to wear the mask for?

If you don’t have any preexisting conditions, Dr. DeMarco said, “as you wear the mask longer and longer, it’s just like exercising, your tolerance becomes bigger and bigger.”

For essential workers who have to wear the mask for hours, Dr. DeMarco said if you can, go to a separate room away from others and take the mask off to give yourself a break.

Can you wear a mask while you workout?

“Yes absolutely, it’s something they’re gonna have to get used to, it’s their endurance in wearing that mask will improve as they do it,” said Dr. DeMarco.

When you’re done working out though, Dr. DeMarco said to take the mask off and don’t wear it again until you wash it.


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