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Are expired surgical masks usable? I know they are less effective but when desperate, can I use it? Or better off without it?

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Dr. Dinesh G
Space Doctor
Doctor
24 Streak Score Doctors are able to put a streak together by performing an activity everyday
Hi @Terrific4 thats a terrific question. Currently, front-line healthcare workers like myself are reusing masks on the basis of CDC's guidelines. The type with the elastic band that slips around the ear can be safely reused as long as it is not damp/ wet/ soiled. As an added precaution, avoid touching the mask and wash your hands thoroughly after handling it if and when you need to.

More information about this here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/ppe-strategy/face-masks.html

Hope this helps, and stay safe!
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@Siti
Hi Doc. Can I check if expired N95 are reusable as well? The only problem is the foam that is fixed at the top has sort of come off. Can I just scotchtape that part and wear it. I have quite a number from the haze days. Or should I throw them away? 
Dr. Dinesh Guna
Doctor
24 Streak Score Doctors are able to put a streak together by performing an activity everyday
Space Doctor
Hi @Ain yes they are reusable and some of us front-liners are re-using them for a few days if they are intact and not soiled. However, if the foam seal you described has come off, that can affect the fit, and it would not be recommended to re-use them - please consider throwing them away.

That being said, I would like to highlight that the N95 masks are highly dependent on a good fit and even healthcare workers need to undergo testing to determine their fit. Simple factors such as facial hair can affect the snugness of fit. Also, some studies have indicated equivalent performance with surgical masks that are much more comfortable and easier to apply. More information on HSA's website here: https://www.hsa.gov.sg/consumer-safety/articles/guide-to-masks-and-respirators

That being said, for those not on the frontline with regular direct exposure to symptomatic patients, the CDC has recommended that cloth masks suffice for the purpose of general protection with every day use during this period, on the basis of available evidence. I would therefore strongly recommend against the use of N95 masks. More information about how cloth masks can be effectively used on CDC's website here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html