Cheat Sheet: Making PPE More Comfortable

Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) is one of the most tangible ways healthcare workers and ordinary people can protect themselves from increased risks of infection. But since added measures have been taken during the COVID-19 pandemic to increase not only the types of protective equipment being worn, but also the length of time it must be worn, physical irritants can and do arise.

Here are some tips for making PPE a bit more comfortable without losing its effectiveness:

  • Use a face shield attachment or “ear saver” for mask earloops. By attaching the mask loops to a face shield headband or other plastic clip around the back of the head, friction behind the ears can be eliminated. If a face shield is too loose, place a rubber band or elastic ponytail holder on the arms of the headband for a tighter fit.
  • Wear a headband under a face shield. Because face shields usually feature a foam band or hard plastic strap that meets the forehead, they can become uncomfortable after extended wear. Place a discreet headband underneath the strap to create a barrier between the plastic and forehead to reduce irritation.
  • Fogging face shields are not only distracting, but they reduce visibility. To avoid this, apply a drop of dish soap that can be rubbed on both sides of the shield, then rinsed and air dried. The soap creates a surface that prevents fogging. In addition, many manufacturers offer anti-fog masks.
  • If skin is becoming irritated from wearing a face mask, consider taking these steps: avoid wearing makeup under a face mask, change the mask more frequently, determine if you need a hypoallergenic mask. If a mask is loose, twist or knot the earloops for a more comfortable fit that prevents excessive rubbing.

PPE is one of the most tangible ways healthcare workers and ordinary people can protect themselves from increased risks of infection during the pandemic. From gloves to masks and face shields, PPE use has been normalized both inside and out of healthcare settings. By making PPE more comfortable, healthcare workers will find it easier to follow proper protocol and maximize effectiveness.

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This article originally appeared in the February 2021 issue of OnTarget. Read the latest issue and view current promotions at pattersondental.com/dental/ontarget.