Health officials explain how to properly take off and put on masks and gloves

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Now that the CDC and many other agencies recommend everyone wear masks when around other people experts say it's especially important to wear them properly.

WakeMed infection prevention specialist, Jessica Dixon, says you should always clean your hands before even touching your mask, then never touch the mask itself.

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"You want to hold it, if you have an ear-loop mask hold it by the ear loops," Dixon said as she demonstrated by sliding the loops over her ears. "Be sure your mouth and nose are covered."

And while wearing the mask, Dixon suggests that you resist the temptation to touch your face if you adjust it.

But it's when someone takes the mask off that they often mess up: Many are touching the mask itself and not the straps used to hold it on.

Dixon says people are often grabbing the mask at the bridge of the nose and pulling it down.
"And really you want to avoid touching the outside of the mask as much as you can. While the point of wearing this right now is what's coming from you and the contamination theoretically is on the inside, certainly, if anyone has coughed or sneezed in your face or if you have touched the outside of it while you were in the store, the exterior is contaminated as well."

She added, "And, obviously, you're not trying to protect yourself from your own germs so really it's this outside that you need to consider contaminated and be careful about touching. So if you do this," she said as she again grabbed the mask at the bridge of her nose, "Number one I just touched my face, and number two I just touched the outside of the mask."

And that, she said can really increase your chance of exposure.

If you plan to reuse the mask make sure the outer portion of the mask is folded in. If it's a cloth mask just throw it in the washing machine.

And although Dixon isn't recommending wearing gloves, she demonstrated how to safely remove them if you do.

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She says you want to grab the glove by the cuff and pull it off.
"And then I'm going to do the same with the other. Just grab the cuff and pull it off. If you do it exactly right they come off inside of each other," she said while demonstrating.

And when you take off any personal protective equipment don't discard it on the ground.

Dixon says she's recently seen gloves littering parking lots and streets.

It makes you wonder what the thought process is for some people she said.

"'This is something I thought was contaminated with a deadly virus. So I'm just going to throw it on the ground.'"

Just remember, members of cleaning crews have to pick up those contaminated gloves.

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