1. PPE Information and Guidance
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Clinician wearing a facemask and N95 respirator while speaking with a patient

PPE information to help keep you safe in the fight against COVID-19

We are fully committed to helping fight the spread of COVID-19 by supporting healthcare works around the world. This pandemic is affecting all of us, and we are doing everything we can to support public health–including doubling our global output of N95 respirators and getting them to healthcare providers on the front lines of the pandemic. Learn more about how we’re increasing production of PPE.

  • Clinician wearing PPE speaking with a patient

    PPE Questions and Considerations

    We know you have questions related to PPE. We are here to provide guidance on the different types of PPE and its proper use.

  • Clinician wearing PPE speaking with a patient

    Optimization of PPE

    With supply challenges around the world, many facilities are looking to optimize their equipment.

  • Clinician wearing PPE with patient

    PPE and Skin Protection

    Explore some simple ways you can minimize skin breakdown from the extended use of PPE.


Clinician wearing PPE speaking with a patient
PPE Questions and Considerations

We are here to answer your questions on 3M™ Health Care Particulate Respirator and Surgical Mask use, fit and other considerations to help protect yourself. We will continue to update site with new information and answer questions we hear from you.

Frequently asked questions on PPE use and equipment

Respiratory protection in healthcare


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Clinician wearing PPE speaking with a patient
Optimization of PPE

With supply challenges around the world, many facilities are looking to optimize their equipment. This section contains use and reuse information of N95 respirators.

Frequently asked questions on use and reuse of N95 respirators

  • Is there a time limit to wearing standard and surgical N95 respirators?

    There is no time limit to wearing a N95 respirator. Respirators can be worn until they are dirty, damaged or difficult to breathe through.

    Learn More (PDF, 361.33 KB)

  • Standard infection control practice usually requires disposal of masks and respirators after each patient interaction. Particles that may contain viruses, bacteria, etc. get captured on the N95 respirator filter fibers during use and remain on the fibers after use. Handling or storing the respirator after use against particles containing viruses, bacteria, etc. might contribute to result in contact transmission of the disease.

    We recognize the existing CDC guidelines recommending respirator reuse: When supplies of N95 respirators are depleted, a combination of approaches can be utilized to conserve supplies while safeguarding health care workers (see full CDC document here).

    There is no way of determining the maximum possible number of safe reuses for an N95 respirator. Safe N95 reuse is affected by a number of variables that impact respirator function and contamination over time.

    The decision to implement policies that permit extended use or limited reuse of N95 respirators should be made by the professionals who manage the institution’s respiratory protection program.

    Learn More (PDF, 361.33 KB)

  • To be effective, a respirator needs to be worn correctly and worn throughout the duration of the hazardous exposure.

    Don:
     

    1. Hold the respirator in the palm of your hand with the straps facing the floor (If using a flat fold respirator; pull open the folds into a cup shape before placing in the palm of your hand).
    2. Place the N95 respirator on your face covering your nose and mouth.
    3. Pull the bottom strap up and over the top of your head and place at the back of your head below your ears.
    4. Pull the upper strap up and over top of your head, and put it behind your head at the crown of your head.
    5. Use both hands to mold the nosepiece to fit snugly against your nose and face.
    6. Perform a seal check according to manufacturer instructions to ensure there is a good seal against the skin.
       

    Doff for disposal: Do NOT touch the front of the respirator.
     

    1. Tilt your head forward. Then, use two hands to grab the bottom strap, pull to the sides, then over your head.
    2. Use both hands to grab the upper strap, pull to the sides, then over your head. Keep tension on the upper strap as you remove it, which will let the mask fall forward and be removed
    3. Wash hands per facility protocol.

    Learn More (PDF, 1.07 MB)

  • Re-Don:
     

    1. Wash hands per facility protocol
    2. Apply clean gloves
    3. Inspect respirator for holes, tears or other damage or soiling to surface, straps, metal nose strip and nose foam. Get a new respirator if damaged or soiled.
    4. Hold the respirator in the palm of your hand with the straps facing the floor (If using a flat fold respirator; pull open the folds into a cup shape before placing in the palm of your hand).
    5. Place the N95 respirator on your face covering your nose and mouth. Avoid touching the inside of the respirator.
    6. Pull the upper strap and put it behind your head and place at the back of your head.
    7. Pull the bottom strap up and over top of your head and put it behind your head below your ears.
    8. Use both hands to mold the nosepiece to fit snugly against your nose and face. Perform a seal check according to manufacturer instructions to ensure there is a good seal against the skin.
    9. Remove and discard gloves. Wash hands per facility protocol.

    Doff for storage and reuse:
     

    1. Wash hands per facility protocol
    2. Apply clean gloves
    3. Tilt your head forward. Then, with gloves on, use two hands to grab the bottom strap, pull to the sides, then over your head.
    4. Use both hands to grab the upper strap, pull to the sides, then over your head. Keep tension on the upper strap as you remove it, which will let the mask fall forward and be removed.
    5. Inspect respirator for holes, tears or other damage or soiling to surface, straps, metal nose strip and nose foam. Discard respirator if damaged or soiled.
    6. Place respirator in facility approved storage for reuse* and wash hands per facility protocol.

    Tips for Using a Filtering Facepiece Respirator Video

    Learn More (PDF, 567.93 KB)

  • CDC provided guidance for used respirator storage: Hang used respirators in a designated storage area or keep them in a clean, breathable container such as a paper bag between uses.

    To minimize potential cross-contamination, store respirators so that they do not touch each other and the person using the respirator is clearly identified. Storage containers should be disposed of or cleaned regularly.

    Learn More


Decontamination Methods for 3M N95 Respirators


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PPE and Skin Protection

PPE and Skin Protection

Extended use of PPE, particularly devices like respirators and face shields, may impact skin and cause various levels of skin breakdown. Explore some simple ways you can help minimise that breakdown.

Adequate fit and seal of filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) – such as N95, FFP2, KN95, or similar respirators (PDF, 139.85 KB) – with the skin are required to provide expected and effective exposure reduction.

Helping you face the challenge

  • Facing the Challenge Graphic

    Tips for PPE Skin Protection

    Explore steps you can take to help protect yourself from skin breakdown due to extended PPE use.

  • 3M™ Cavilon™ Product Use for PPE Skin Protection

    3M™ Cavilon™ Product Use for PPE Skin Protection

    3M™ Cavilon™ No Sting Barrier Film helps protect the skin without interfering with the fit of the respirator.

    Learn how you can use it for skin protection under your PPE and other skin protectant considerations. 


Frequently asked questions on preventing PPE-related skin injuries

  • Can I use ointments (e.g. petroleum jelly) to protect my skin under a 3M filtering facepiece respirator (FFR)?
    3M does not recommend the use of petroleum jelly (also known as petrolatum), ointments, or thick creams because of the potential for interference with the seal of any of 3M’s FFR’s. Petroleum jelly may cause the respirator to slip around on the face
  • Yes, 3M™ Cavilon™ No Sting Barrier Film will help protect intact skin from moisture and friction and, when used properly, would not be expected to interfere with the fit¹ of 3M FFR.

    ¹ No effect on respirator fit was observed in studies comparing the fit of filtering facepiece respirators with and without these Cavilon products applied to skin as shown in this application guide (PDF, 1.54 MB). If there is any doubt or concern regarding the impact of these products on the respirator’s seal, employees should be fit tested with these products applied to the skin as they would be during respirator wear

  • Once completely dry on the skin, 3M Cavilon No Sting Barrier Film is not expected to transfer off the skin onto FFRs. However, 3M has not tested FFRs for the presence of residual barrier film or skin protectant, or the impact that this material could have on decontamination processes.

    ¹ No effect on respirator fit was observed in studies comparing the fit of filtering facepiece respirators with and without these Cavilon products applied to skin as shown in this application guide (PDF, 139 KB). If there is any doubt or concern regarding the impact of these products on the respirator’s seal, employees should be fit tested with these products applied to the skin as they would be during respirator wear

  • 3M does not recommend use of dressings such as polyurethane foams and hydrocolloids. These types of dressings can raise the respirator off the cheeks and nose and may interfere with the intended seal and exposure reduction associated with the respirator.


    • If use of a dressing or bandage is desired, select the thinnest dressing available (e.g. 3M™ Tegaderm™ Transparent Film Dressing) AND perform fit testing, as well as a user seal check every time the respirator is donned (put on).
      -Fit testing (PDF, 77.07 KB) should be conducted following local regulatory requirements or recognised fit test protocol where fit testing is not required by local regulation.
    • For those respirators with adjustable headbands, it is important to not over-tighten 3M FFR as this can interfere with the seal against the skin and increase the risk of pressure-related skin damage

    Note: Dressings or film barriers can be used to help prevent or cover areas of skin damage under equipment, such as face shields, where fit and seal is not critical to the function of the protective equipment.


Looking for more information about a particular topic?

Let us know how we can support you and your facility.


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