Do face masks work? Will it prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Which the speedy spread of the virus, the public is ready to take all the steps that will guarantee them protection against the Coronavirus. Since March, it’s hard to find anyone in the streets and public places without a mask. Initially, most countries experienced a shortage of face masks because of the immediate rise in their sales. However, we found a way around it by creating homemade face masks.

You may have lately been wondering, do face masks really work? Or does wearing them simply keeps your mind satisfied in thinking that you are protected, and it has nothing to do with your physical health? Let’s find out more.

What do the authorities say?

The opinion of authorities varies considerably when it comes to the use of a face mask in the current pandemic. WHO recommends using a face mask only if you are sick with the virus yourself or taking care of a Corona patient. However, in some regions of the world, especially those that were on the frontlines of this pandemic, wearing a face mask in public is made compulsory by the law.

CDC recommends the use of cloth coverings to cover the face and prevent the spread of the disease and even provides a detailed guide on how to make these with inexpensive household items. Their website clearly states that these homemade face masks will prevent the spread of the virus since it will prevent a possible patient from transmitting the virus to others that are close to him or her.

Face masks for health workers and patients

The above recommendations of the authorities are clearly generated keeping in view the shortage of such essential medical equipment. What they want, understandably, is that the truly effective medical face masks, such as N95 respirators, be reserved for the confirmed patients and health care workers since they are the ones who are the most exposed to the virus and need as much protection as possible.

That right there answers your question, do face masks really work? Of course, they work and prevent the spread of the virus, why else would they be reserved for patients and health workers?

However, in compliance with what our authorities say, using a homemade face mask is a better idea instead of purchasing them from the store and contributing to their shortage. Purchase one only if you have a Corona patient at home or you yourself are one.

Types of face masks and their effectiveness

That brings us to the next big question - do face masks really work if they are made at home with a cloth and other household items? Let’s check out the different types of face masks that are available currently and the effectiveness of each one in protecting against the virus.

Respirator Face Masks

Respirators are the most effective varieties of face masks available, and therefore the ones recommended only for patients and health workers. These firm, round respirators secured on the openings of our face with earloops are reinforced with a filtration material. This filtration removes the infectious particles from the air that reaches your nose and mouth.

However, their effectiveness can be enhanced with custom fittings done using aerosol spray tests on individual users. Health care providers, in most countries, have been custom-fitted for their N95 face masks and also trained on how to use them properly.

However, it’s not designed for children or those with respiratory or cardiac medical conditions since it may restrict breathing.

3 Ply Surgical masks

Respirators weren’t much popular before the Coronavirus, but surgical masks are items that we are all familiar with. So are these paper-thin rectangular masks any good at protecting against the virus? Do face masks really work in this case? 

As stated by the FDA, surgical masks will prevent larger particles from reaching your nose and mouth. They also prevent splashes and sprays which may contain infected particles from reaching your respiratory tract.

However, they fit loosely in contrast to respirators so the particles that are released through coughing and sneezing may not be blocked 100% through this barrier. Also, they are not meant to be reused. So, once you have worn them in public, you are supposed to remove them from behind and throw them. Prevent yourself from touching the front of the mask once you have used it in public and use a fresh piece next time you go out. 

Homemade face masks

Last but not least are homemade face masks. These are a major hit among the general public since we want to focus on reserving the respirators for the health workers. Do face masks really work if they are fashioned with everyday household items?

With the double layer of cloth fabric, as recommended by the CDC on their website, these face masks are somewhat effective in filtering out the infectious particles from the air you breathe. However, they are not as effective as respirators. Some health care workers have also been seen wearing cloth coverings in adverse situations when an N95 was unavailable.

However, in the case where a cloth covering becomes wet or uncomfortable after wearing it for long hours and the user starts to touch it too often, the chances of potentially catching the virus are increased. In such a case, a surgical mask is more effective since its low-profile design keeps it comfortable and is disposed of after each use. In the case of a homemade face mask, you will need to wash it and dry it properly before reusing it. Make sure that the structure is intact so that it offers the maximum possible protection against the virus.

Conclusion

We hope this article answers your question, do face masks really work? All varieties of face masks play an effective role in preventing the spread so make sure you wear them, especially when going out in public. Don’t forget to follow the additional guidelines made by the authorities such as frequent hand-washing and social-distancing, since all these are highly effective in keeping you and those around you safe

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