On masks, and ear savers

About a month from now, I’ll be out among the teeming millions, rather than practicing social distancing as I am now. I have an operation coming up, then I’ll be in a rehab center for about a month-6 weeks. I will not be able to remove myself from people, and so I plan to wear the surgical-style masks quite a lot. I might find extended use irritating and chafing to my ears, and yet, still need to wear them.

Do you have any experience with the so-called, ‘ear-savers’, and if so, what was it? Positive, negative?

I’m trying to get things in order for my stay, and given the postal delays of late, I thought I should see about this soon.

Thanks for reading, and hopefully, responding.

I work in retail and see a lot of people everyday. I have yet to see anyone using one of those, despite them seeming to be all the rage 6 months ago.

My suggestion is that you get a pack of masks and wear them for a while to see if you like them. IME, they all fit differently and you’re probably better off finding one that you can wear, as designed, that doesn’t bug you. At work we have three different brands right now. One I can wear ‘comfortably’ for as long as needed. One does pull on my ears and the third one smells weird.

You could also look into ones that go around the back of your head instead of over your ears.

OP, have you seen face brackets? They “tent” the facemask to keep it off your face.


I haven’t tried them but I can see where they could keep the mask/sweat off you face, make your speech more intelligible…tbh I think the masks you linked are the least uncomfortable but it’s an alternative if you wanted to try cloth or had some loose fitting ones.

What kind of surgery are you having? Will it affect your ability to reach back around your head?

The Velcro brand ones on Amazon seemed like the ones I’d go for. Much simpler to attach to the mask straps and Velcro is a well known, time honored quality. The other clasps seemed like they would require a lot more manual dexterity and fussing than the Velcro. (Very antique seamstress here)

If you wear eyeglasses or hearing aids the ear savers might be helpful there also so then your aids or eyeglasses won’t be dislodged as often nor as crowded (I wear both and it’s hard to fit all 3 peaceably).

I think you will find that any staff, nursing, dietary, PT, etc will always have a mask on so you might find that you don’t have to wear one every minute. Plus the facility should be able to provide you with a fresh mask every day so you shouldn’t have to arrive with boxes and boxes of your own. (antique nurse here).

Hope it all goes well for you. You are smart to be thinking so far ahead.

Wouldn’t those just make it pull on your ears harder?

Fair point; the straps are from the mask, not the product I cited (my bad). Scrolling down, though, I see this one:

I have some of those mask extenders. Turns out that the surgical mask ear loops are soft enough that I haven’t needed to use the extenders. I did try them out briefly when they arrived. They sort of want to slide down the back of my head. Maybe I’d need to wear two at a time - one up high and one lower down. But like I said, the surgical mask ear loops are pretty soft.

I got some of those extenders when I was trying to fit masks to kids. It turned out to not work for any of us. I’ve been making masks, though, and I’ve found for myself that elastic around the back of the head works way better for me. Better fit and more comfortable. You might be able to achieve this just by tying the right length of string or elastic between the two ear loops, to join them in the back. Maybe experiment now to figure out what’s comfortable and works best.

Those extenders were hard to manipulate though, and they do slide down to the base of the skull.

I just cut a length of the strap off an old mask and tie it between the loops of a new one. That way I have nothing pulling at the backs of my ears.

Way back in the middle of February, just before I had to fly back to Beijing, my mother-in-law gave me around 70 of these nifty KF94 masks. A better picture is here. The thing comes with a little plastic hook. Even wit it that way, the elastic still irritated my ears, so when it was time to transition to the second mask, I took the hook off the old mask, and now use two hooks. It’s quie comfortable and the mask still fits as it should.

Thank you got all the responses.

My surgery won’t affect my ability to reach deal with the mask, thanks for asking.

I’m sure the hospital will deal with the COVID situation just fine, but I’ll only be there 3-5 days, then I have to go to a rehab facility to recover. In my experience, things are hit or miss in those places, and I really don’t want to be there in a pandemic situation. I figure I better look out for myself as best I can, which is why I’m looking into the mask situation now.

So, no ringing endorsements for the ‘ear savers’. Guess I’ll just chance it. The times I’ve warn a mask, it didn’t bother me, but I wanted to be prepared if wearing them much more often caused trouble.

I’ve bought masks where the straps loop behind the head and the neck. I just rout the top strap just above my ear. They’re not as widely available as the ear loop type, but not hard to find either.
If the earloop type is the only available, what I do is just take a paperclip, open it slightly, and use it as a clasp of sorts to join the two loops behind the neck or head. The length of the paperclip allows for the extension of the straps…unless one has a very large head.

We have this type for long duration wear (N95). For short duration day-to-day wear we have the cheaper ear-loop types.

This is a great idea! I’m going to remember it. If the first paper clip wasn’t long enough I bet I could hook two together the same way.

I like the convenience and cost too. Thanks!

Glad to help! Minor discomforts over an extended period can drive me up a wall as much as much as anything else.

The paperclip idea sounds like a great solution. It’s not much different from the ear savers they sell, and like BippityBoppityBoo said, you could join two of them if necessary.

This bears repeating. If you haven’t been wearing a mask much, you’ll be a LOT happier if your first encounter with them isn’t at the rehab center where you need one 24/7 for weeks and have little ability to get more/different from what you brought or what they supply.

a) Work up to wearing one around the house all day.
b) If you can’t get used to one type, change types until you succeed.