By Emily Venezky February 14, 2020

Medical masks should be worn with the colored side out

If Your Time is short

  • Global health agencies and medical mask producers agree that the colored side of the mask should always be worn on the outside.

Don’t take your medical advice from Facebook. It could leave you with the wrong instructions for wearing a medical mask.

A Facebook post claimed that a doctor’s office had received the "proper directions" from a mask manufacturer on how to wear medical masks. The post includes two pictures of how to wear the medical masks and explains that you should wear the colored side of the mask on the outside when you are sick and the white side on the outside when you are healthy. 

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

We checked in with PriMED, one of the leading medical mask producers. On its FAQ page, it says that "the color always faces out" on a medical mask. The Center for Health Protection, which was established in Hong Kong during the SARS outbreak in 2004, also advises wearers to wear the colored side on the outside. 

While the Facebook post said that the white side of the mask contains a filter, the center’s illustration of the three-layer design medical mask explains that the white layer is for moisture absorption from your mouth and nose. The San Francisco Department of Public Health’s website also said that "the colored side of the mask is usually the front and should face away from you, while the white side touches your face." 

Featured Fact-check

So remember: color-side out, whether you are healthy or sick.

One more thing: Americans looking to buy a medical mask to protect themselves against the 2019 novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, should know it isn’t generally necessary

The New York Times interviewed medical care professionals that explained that hoarding medical masks because of the 2019 novel coronavirus panic can lead to shortages in hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices. The CDC determined the immediate health risk to Americans as low

Anyways, colored side out. We rate this post False.

Our Sources

BBC News, Coronavirus: Does China have enough face masks to meet its needs?, Feb. 6, 2020

CNN, There's been a run of surgical masks in the US because of the coronavirus scare, Jan. 28, 2020

PriMED, ASTM Mask Protection Standards - Surgical & Procedure Masks, visited on Feb. 14, 2020

Centre for Health Protection, Use Mask Properly, visited on Feb. 14, 2020

San Francisco Department of Public Health, How to Put on and Remove a Face Mask, visited on Feb. 14, 2020

The New York Times, Mask Hoarders May Raise Risk of a Coronavirus Outbreak in the U.S., Jan. 29, 2020

CDC, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary, Feb. 13, 2020a

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Medical masks should be worn with the colored side out

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