In the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which is better, a face mask or face shield?
In many states, the use of a face mask or face shield in public is required in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Although safety is on many minds, many also struggle to put on the cloth or surgical masks in public due to complaints of muffled voices, clouded glasses, or being too sweaty. Instead, some prefer to wear a mask. But which one is better to use in the community? The curved piece of plastic attached to a headband, or that mask that hides your nose and mouth?
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Defenders of the face shield told Fox News that they like its reuse and the fact that it cleans easily with soap and water. Some health experts say the shield prevents a person from touching their face, which ultimately helps limit exposure to the virus. The transparency of the face shield makes communication easier for those who are hard of hearing and who also need to read lips. In fact, some medical experts say the shield also provides a physical reminder to others of social distance when they are in the community, according to an article in AARP.
As the public debates which facial coverage is best, so do professionals in the medical field.
“Face shields appear to significantly reduce the amount of inhalation exposure to influenza virus, another respiratory virus spread by drops. In a simulation study, face shields were shown to reduce immediate viral exposure by 96 percent when worn by a simulated health worker within 18 inches of a cough, “says an op-ed in JAMA by Dr. Eli Perencevich, professor of internal medicine and epidemiology at the University of Iowa Carver School of Medicine, and colleagues.
But many doctors also told Fox News that they recommend face masks over the face shield for community use, saying the shield does not provide adequate protection from airborne particles.
“The only time a person would need to wear a face shield with a face mask is if they are around people who do not wear a mask, as the shield will help protect their eyes. Shields are not as effective or protective alone, as the virus can still surround the shield and enter the mouth and nose. A face shield protects the eyes from the virus, “Dr. Hugh Cassiere, director of critical care at Northwell University Hospital of Northwell Health told Fox News.
“Face shields do not fully protect you from infection, while masks are more effective,” added Cassiere.
Meanwhile, Dr. Fred Davis of Northwell Health LIJ on Long Island said that face shields can be used as an additional layer of protection: “In public, a face shield can offer additional protection than just a mask.”
“It is not known if face shields provide any benefit as source control to protect others from respiratory particulate spray,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state on their website. “The CDC does not recommend [the] use of face shields for normal daily activities or as a substitute for fabric face liners. “
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However, “if unmasked face shields are used, they should wrap around the sides of the wearer’s face and extend below the chin. Disposable face shields should only be used for single use. Reusable face shields should be cleaned and disinfect after each use, “adds the federal health agency.
As for the use of face masks or face shields on babies, the CDC also does not recommend it.
“Children under the age of 2 should not wear cloth face covers. Plastic face shields are NOT recommended for newborns and infants,” according to the CDC.