Nurses and nursing students will learn how to properly don (put on) and doff (take off or remove) an N-95 mask. This article and video will demonstrate the proper technique for how to wear an N-95 mask.
What is an N-95 mask? It is a special type of mask worn by nurses or other members of the healthcare team to prevent the transmission of airborne illnesses.
When is a nurse required to wear an N-95 mask? This mask must be work when dealing with patients who are in airborne isolation…examples:
- Herpes Zoster (Varicella Zoster)(disseminated) Shingles (Airborne and Contact)
- Measles (Rubeola)
Mnemonic to help you remember:
Airborne Chicken Number 95 Dissected Her Tubby Mealworm
Airborne: type of isolation precaution
Chicken: Chicken Pox (Varicella)
Number 95: N95 mask…special PPE you must wear at all times
Dissected Her: Disseminated Herpes Zoster (Shingles)
Video Demonstration on How to Don and Doff an N-95 Mask
How to Don (Put on) an N-95 Mask
Before donning any type of respirator, always follow the manufacture’s instructions and your facility’s protocols for being fitted for a respirator. This is usually performed yearly, but it can vary among different facilities.
- Perform hand hygiene.
- Hold the respirator in one hand, with the front of the respirator touching the inside of your hand. The metal nose piece should rest near the fingertips. Be sure the top and bottom straps of the respirator are hanging down below your hand and are not tangled or twisted.
- Take the respirator and place it over your nose, mouth, and under the chin. Hold the respirator in place with one hand.
- Use your free hand to place the straps on your head. It’s very important the straps rest on the head and are NOT overlapping or tangled.
- First, take the top strap of the respirator and place it just past the top of your head, above the ears.
- Then take the bottom strap of the respirator and place it around the bottom of the head, just below the ears.
- To ensure a proper seal of the respirator around the nose area, use the fingertips of both hands to bend the metal nose piece around the nose, starting in the center and working your way outward on each side.
Seal test for N-95 Respirator
This is performed to check if you donned the respirator correctly and to make sure it does NOT leak air. Always follow the manufacture’s guidelines for this part because different brands vary on their seal test guidelines.
- Place both hands over the respirator.
- Take a sharp breath in and make sure that the respirator is sealing over the face during this inhalation.
- Keep both hands on the respirator and breathe out. While breathing out feel for any air leaking around the nose piece and around the respirator’s perimeter.
- If air is leaking around the nose piece, try re-bending the nose piece with both hands and recheck the seal.
- If air is leaking around the respirator’s perimeter, try adjusting the straps and recheck again, making sure the respirator is not being affected by any piercings, facial hair, or glasses, which could prevent a proper seal.
NOTE: If the respirator still leaks after this, you may need a different size or type of respirator. Do NOT use the respirator if a proper seal has not been obtained.
How to Doff (Take off) an N-95 Respirator
Two important concepts to remember
- The mask is considered contaminated…therefore, do NOT touch this part when removing the respirator.
- The straps of the mask are considered clean…therefore, only touch the straps when removing the respirator.
- Grasp the BOTTOM strap of the mask and lift it over the head.
- Then grasp the TOP strap of the mask and lift it over the head.
3. Dispose or reuse* the mask per facility’s protocol.
4. Perform hand hygiene.
*Reusing the mask may not be applicable. ALWAYS check your facility’s protocol for the proper steps.