Recently, there has been an increase in news and misinformation around face masks and the protection they offer against Covid-19, from questions surrounding how to wash face masks, whether they make the wearer retain carbon dioxide and many more!
We have the top 5 face mask myths and asked Dr Jermaine Egbunike MBBS, a Medical Doctor at Basildon & Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, to share some insight and crack the code on the truth behind face masks.
- Masks need to be replaced daily
Doctor Egbunike MBBS said: “Reusable masks are safe to use provided they are washed and sanitised regularly. The good thing about reusable masks is that they are convenient, and ultimately can save a lot of money. Upkeep is the most important thing in ensuring your mask is providing you with the highest protection and this is accomplished by cleaning your mask ideally after every wear.”
There have been new and changing advice around the world on how often the public should wash their face masks and new evidence suggests that this should be washed daily, similarly as suggested by Dr Egbunike MBBS.
2. The mask only protects others, not the wearer
“Imagine a scenario where you are not infected and another person is. If you are both not wearing masks, there is a high chance you will catch it from them. If only they are wearing a mask, there is a smaller chance you could catch it as masks do not provide 100% protection. However, if you are both wearing masks then the likelihood of you catching it drops even more. In this way, it is vital that both parties wear a mask to provide the most protection for everybody.”
When the public was first advised to wear face coverings many insisted this only protected the wearer than the people around them. This claim has been disproved by many sources, including the CDC, as the mask not only stifles coughs and sneezes, but aids in preventing the spread of bacteria in droplets, whilst the masks filter prevents the wearer from breathing in germs it also acts as a barrier from infected droplets leaving the mask wearers nose and mouth, aiding both the wearer and those surrounding them.
3. Face masks make it harder to breathe
“It will obviously feel unfamiliar having something covering over your mouth as you would not normally have this. However, there is very little evidence to suggest wearing a mask reduces the amount of oxygen reaching your lungs, and this is the most important thing. Whilst it may be uncomfortable there should not be any restriction to breathing whilst wearing a mask.”
Some people have argued that they feel like they struggle to breathe wearing a face mask, due to the covering over their nose and mouth or possibly due to asthma or respiratory difficulties. There are those who are exempt from wearing a face mask due to this. However, for most people, it’s just something unfamiliar and new to them, as the BBC has shared that there is little to support that masks cause difficulty breathing. The best option would be to choose a mask that has a snug fit and is also comfortable with adjustable straps.
Masks like SmartCover have a nose bridge, which contours to the shape of the wearers face and also has adjustable straps for a better and snugger fit. These masks are not only top-rated and lab-tested but are washable and reusable up to 67 times, offering strong protection at an affordable price.
4. There’s no scientific evidence that masks work
“There are studies and guidance by the CDC and WHO that show that face masks do significantly reduce the chance of spreading Covid and protecting you from it. The mask in simple terms acts as a barrier to stop the spread of the droplets as we talk, cough, or sneeze and this is vital in reducing the spread.”
As mentioned previously, the CDC has stated that masks hinder the wearer from breathing in infectious germs as well as protecting others around them. Similarly, WHO has also stated that masks hinder the spread of Covid-19 and that triple layered masks are a strong form of defence, as they act as a protective shield for the wearer and those they come into contact with.
5. Masks only help if someone has symptoms
“The mask is probably most helpful in preventing someone from developing symptoms in the first place. The covid virus is spread through the air. If you have symptoms and you cough, sneeze or even laugh close to somebody, you could place them at risk of catching it. The mask helps to contain the spread in this way and also helps to protect you from catching it from someone else.”
Masks that have been lab-tested, offer 95% bacterial filtration efficiency and are 100% droplet resistant prevent bacteria from entering the face mask. Therefore, hindering the wearer from developing symptoms from bacteria entering the face mask in the first instance. However, if the wearer does have symptoms, the mask will act as a barrier to those around them, helping to stop the spread onto others.