Are Face Shields Better Than Masks for Protection

face shield vs face mask

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged countries across the entire globe. Health care systems have been greatly overwhelmed, even in the most developed economies in North America and Europe. Economies have been brought to a near standstill. Originating from Hubei, Wuhan in the People’s Republic of China, the disease has resulted in nearly 10 million infections with more than half a million deaths.

There is no existing cure or vaccine that can aid in combating the virus. The World Health Organization has recommended asymptomatic and supportive care for patients who test positive for the virus. Other precautions include social distancing and the wearing of face masks in situations where social distancing will be impossible. The common methods that the virus is transmitted from person to person include, coughing, sneezing, and talking while in close contact. Research has shown that apart from decontaminating surfaces, washing hands, using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and wearing gloves, the usage of face masks and face shields has been shown to curb the spread of the disease-causing particles from one person to the next.

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Wearing Face Mask Is the New Norm

In what has now become the new norm, people in various cities around the world are seen walking around wearing face shield mask s, and some even wearing face masks and face shields. Face masks and face shield s with breathing holes now come in a myriad of designs and colors to fill the gap created by the shortage of surgical masks. Some people are even making their own masks from various materials.

Currently, there is an ongoing debate about the effectiveness of face shields vs face masks. Some people argue that clear plastic mask s and a face shield with breathing holes are safer because they cover the individual’s face and could potentially prevent them from inhaling infected droplets in the air. Others argue that face shield mask s are safer because they not only protect the person wearing them, but also the people around them. Others argue that it is safest to have both of them to really reduce the chances of individuals contracting the disease. Sometimes comparing the face shields vs face masks comes down to preference. There is a raging debate online on face shields vs face masks

In order to try and establish the effectiveness of each method of protection, it is first best to understand the transmission of the virus in air particles. For instance, how each of the methods of protection is used in everyday life, the different kinds of face shield mask s, the different types of face shields , the differences and similarities that the various types of face masks have, personal protective equipment, safety, and handling of face masks as well as their uses.

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Face Masks

There are many types of face shield mask s on the market today. We will break them down by the different types that we see in everyday life. When choosing a mask there are three factors that you should put into consideration;

  • Breathability
  • Fabric
  • Fit

These factors are important because mask protection is more or less a function of the material it’s made from and how it fits. The rationale here is that if you can’t breathe in it then you’re most likely to remove it, which would defeat the purpose of having it in the first place.

Fabric Masks

The most recommended material for making fabric masks that have an effective filtering thickness is tight-weave that is 100% cotton. It is advisable to hold the mask up against a light. The less light you can see penetrate through the mask, the safer it is.

Most synthetic materials do not measure up well in the safety rankings. However, some synthetic 100% polyester masks have been found to be effective. Despite all this, however, the World Health Organization has advised that it is still better to have a mask or a face shield with breathing holes than have none.

Another thing to consider when going out to buy fabric masks is the layering. In addition to having little to no light penetration, it is also advisable to have many layers woven over the surface area of the mask. This will ensure that particles do not easily penetrate the mask to enter the body. Studies have shown that the virus is spread via large droplets that normally do not linger in the air for a long time. The six-foot social distancing rule is a result of such studies that show that these large droplets cannot travel longer than six feet. This is because they are acted upon by gravity.

The recommended option for fabric face masks is one made of two tight woven layers with a pocket in between them where the user can insert a filter. Filters can be made from anything and can be bought at retail stores. Insertion of these filters in the mask pocket will ensure the maximum possible level of protection against the penetration of virus-carrying droplets.

It has also been found that the best material to use as a filter is polypropylene. Being derived from plastic, it is cheap and easy to source under brand names such as Spunbond.

The science behind polypropylene is its ability to hold electric charges. Electric charges can occur as a result of static electricity that can occur from the rubbing of both layers together. The static cling that is created when this happens can be enough to trap any droplets that may contain virus particles and prevent them from being inhaled. This electrostatic electricity is further kept going by the humidity that is generated by the breathing of a person wearing the mask. Although this humidity is lost when the mask is washed, it can be restored when the mask is ironed or rubbed against a plastic glove for about half a minute. Fabric masks with filters have been tested to be 70% efficient in their filtration capabilities.

An alternative to those who cannot get their hands on polypropylene filters is to use tissue paper in the pocket between the mask layers. This will provide filtration up to a certain point as they do not have the ability to hold an electrostatic charge. Another alternative to tissue paper is also having a tight woven cotton mask with 3 layers or more. Another alternative is also adding a layer of pantyhose on the mask. This prevents particle from going to the side of the mask reducing the probability of inhaling virus-infected droplets.

In addition to having numerous layers, the design of the masks also plays an important role in the effectiveness. A curved mask that fits well over the shape of the mouth, accommodating the nose bridge, will be more effective than a flat mask. This is so because if you cannot breathe effectively through the mask, then the air will escape from the sides, which isn’t the desired result.

There is a type of fabric mask known as neck gaiter masks. These run around the mouth and to the back of the head. Designed to literally warp around, these masks are believed to reduce the probability of air escaping laterally from the sides.

There are fabric masks that come with exhalation valves at the front. These are favorites among many mask buyers because they make it easier to breathe in and out. The downside of these masks, however, is that the exhaled air is usually unfiltered and poses a risk to others around you. This is especially the case the wearer has been exposed to COVID-19. The CDC advices people to wear masks at all times when they are in public places.

Like the CDC, the WHO recommends that the general public should wear nonmedical masks where physical distancing is not possible. Some of these places include public transport, in shops, and in some working conditions, such as those of social workers and cashiers.

For people that are of old age, 55 and above, with prior illnesses, they are recommended to stay at home and practice social distancing. In the event they need to leave the house, they should always wear face masks and avoid contact with people unnecessarily.

Medical masks are a critical source for healthcare workers and others who need them the most. When medical masks are in short supply, the WHO says that they should be reserved for healthcare workers and people who are at the highest risk of contracting the virus.

For people who wear glasses, there is a formation of fog on their glasses. The recommended way to wear the face mask is up to the bottom edge of the glasses. This ensures the air circulated does not move to the glasses forming the fog. The same applies with a face shield with breathing holes. It is quite important to know how to clean face mask.

Sharing of face masks and face shields should be strictly be discouraged. People are advised to use masks once then get rid of them. Although this is seen as expensive, it is advised. This is because the more you wear the mask, the more it is prone to the pathogens.

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Respirator masks come in various designs. The most common ones are the N95, FFP2, and the FFP3. They are made in a way that they filter the germs contained in the air. They are worn on the face, with their main purpose sealing the mouth and nose openings. They are designed for health workers primarily and the general public is discouraged from purchasing them.

Alternatively people can make their masks from readily available materials at home. The fabrics from scarves or pillow cases are examples. While making them from home, ensure that you have a tightly woven material. Not all fabrics material can be used to make the masks, research on the materials that make effective face masks.

Commonly asked questions about Face Masks.

Where can I buy a face mask?

Medical grade face masks are generally for those working on the healthcare frontline. Non-medical, reusable fabric face masks are available to the general public. People can also make cloth face coverings at home.

Will a face-covering stop me from getting the new coronavirus?

It will not. The face mask is a preventive measure, and its primary use is to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. It is also important to wash the hands regularly and continue to follow physical distancing guidelines.

Is there anyone who should not wear a face mask?

The Centre for Disease Control advises that children under the age of 2 years should not wear a cloth face covering. They also suggest that people who have trouble breathing or are unable to remove a mask without assistance should not wear one either.

Should I wash my cloth face coverings?

Washing after every use is very important.
To wash the cloth face coverings, the CDC recommends either a washing machine with regular detergent or washing by hand carefully with a bleach solution.

Why can I not wear a medical face mask or N95 respirator?

Medical masks are a critical source for healthcare workers and others who need them the most. When medical masks are in short supply, the World Health Organization says that they should be reserved for healthcare workers and at-risk individuals. The general consensus in the medical community is that face masks may help prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

Other than using face masks, people should follow the recommendations that are shared to the general public including children’s face shields. Protect yourself and the next person at all times.

Mask Handling and Care

Masks should be handled with clean hands. It is important to remember to wash your hands before you touch the mask, especially when it’s on your face. This will prevent virus particles from getting into your mouth and eyes.

How to wear a face mask safely;

Although applying a face mask sounds simple, some common mistakes are easy to make while wearing one. Ensure that the face-covering does not cause difficulty in breathing

  • Check that the face mask covers both the nose and mouth
  • Make sure that a person can tighten or secure the covering to prevent it from slipping
  • Fit the covering snugly, so there are no gaps

It is extremely important to remember to wash the fabric masks daily with detergent and hot water. Afterward, the mask should be left to completely dry. If you wear a damp mask, it will encourage the growth of microorganisms that may be harmful to your health.

Medical Masks N95 Respirators

These face masks fall under the class of respirators because of their function. They are made up of numerous fine polypropylene layers. Filtering face piece respirators are discarded when they become unsuitable for further use due to considerations of hygiene, excessive resistance, or physical damage. The masks are mostly light but work just fine to filter the air.

They are designed to create a tight seal around the mouth and nose. They are considered the most effective when it comes to the protection of those wearing them and the people around them. They are tested to have a 95% filtration efficiency hence the name. They are few in number and it has been advised that these should be reserved solely for medical workers on the front line against the disease.

KN95 Respirators

These are the Chinese version of the N95 respirators. They are rated by Chinese standards. Similar to the N95 masks. They are rated to capture air particles with a 95% filtration efficiency. Consumers should, however, be wary buying these types of masks. This is especially important in this pandemic period because of the prevalence of fakes that currently exist in the market.

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Surgical Masks

Surgical masks are types of protective equipment which are designed to protect you. These surgical masks protect you from sneezes or any airborne impurities that may be in form of small drops.

These are disposable face masks that are worn over the face covering the nose and mouth. Their primary function is to protect other people from the person wearing the mask. They are designed to block large particles in the air. Surgical masks vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, with some being made from paper and others being made from polypropylene. They can generally block the particles that are transmitted from an infected person.

Face Shields; what are face shields intended to protect you from?

Clear plastic mask s or face shield with breathing holes are another form of Personal Protective Equipment that offers another means of protecting oneself from the novel coronavirus. They are interchangeably referred to as plastic face shield or clear safety mask s Use of face shields has been highly been recommended in hospitals when doctors are dealing with covid-19 patients. Face shields vs face masks.

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They consist of a long curved pane that is attached to a brace that people wear on the forehead. They can be made from plastic privacy shields or Plexiglas. In countries like the United States and Singapore, they are quickly becoming a favorite for the population. People are saying that they are easier to wear and favor people who wear spectacles, people who rely on lip-reading to communicate, among others. People are also saying that they are a safer alternative to the face masks that people sometimes wear incorrectly. This can be, for example, by letting them dangle over their noses or covering only their mouths. Some masks also create itches that introduce risk as people can infect themselves in this way.

Face shields masks on the other hand are transparent, comfortable, and easy to clean. They can be washed with detergent and hot water then wiped with alcohol. They are reusable for virtually long spans of time. The only exception is when a component breaks and a replacement is a necessity. Many people have also been asking the question; how much are face shields? Facemasks on the other hand can only be re-used two or three times before their integrity is compromised. For those asking the question of where can they buy face shields, the internet can be a great resource to know where to buy face shields.

Many experts believe that face shields protect the entire face of the wearer and prevent them from inadvertently touching their faces. They also believe that face shields are properly designed to prevent droplets in the air from being inhaled by the wearer.

Face shields with breathing holes exist. They are not as popular as normal face guard mask s or plastic face shields. Face shields with breathing holes are mainly used by people with difficulty breathing and even then they are not recommended. Face shields with breathing holes are mainly used once and are then disposed. Medical experts prefer using face guard mask s that enable breathing as compared to face shields with holes. Face shields with breathing holes are discouraged because they easily expose an individual to the coronavirus because of the easy passage of air unlike the normal face guard mask.

Numerous studies done in previous years have suggested that face shields could reduce a users’ viral exposure by 96% when worn within 18 inches of other people who were coughing. However, most people in the general public are much farther away from people they are interacting with.

Plastic face shield s masks can be sterilized before and after wearing them. This is an advantage over disposable face guard mask s. The sterilization is made possible because of the plastic material that the face shields are made of. They remain effective against infectious diseases and remain effective even after getting wet.

Using plastic face shield s is good for people who have difficulty in breathing. They allow the circulation of air for the user. Clear plastic mask s are also easier to wear and more comfortable to use. Because of the transparency of the plastic face shield s, they allow easy communication too. The voice exchange is not tampered with enabling comprehension. In wearing clear face masks, you can also wear more protective gear like goggles thus protection on all entry points.

Even in close range, there can be scenarios where face shield mask s are not as effective as masks like the N95 that create a seal around a person’s face. If a person stood on the side of another person wearing a plastic face shield mask and they coughed in their direction, the face shield with breathing holes would be ineffective in protecting the wearer against infection. Clear plastic mask s are also very efficient.

The main reason that many experts advocate the wearing of masks by people in public over face shields is that asymptomatic people (those who may be positive but do not show symptoms) may infect others without knowing.

In order to avoid scratxfches on your clear safety mask while cleaning it, submerge it in warm water. This is to get rid of all the dislodged matter on the mask. Using soapy water is ideal, but the most ideal way is disinfected water. You can also use a cloth on the mask gently, then rinse with warm water. Preferably use running water on the clear plastic mask. Dry your clear face mask with a dry soft cotton towel. The same way soap deals with microbes on our hands are the same way it deals with them on face shield masks.

Alternatively, you can use a disinfectant spray or wipe. Most of the times, you have to be thorough when using this model. More often than not, residue remains on the face shield mask s because of rush or the disinfectants leaving residue on the clear face masks. Effective disinfectant spray wipe takes between 30 seconds to one minute. Ensure you follow the strict instructions shared on the packaging of the disinfectant. Make sure that the alcohol content on the disinfectant is 70% or more. Coronavirus microbes have been known not to survive on clean surfaces disinfected with these alcohol percentage level. Before disinfecting the clear face shield, kindly ensure that you remove the burden. These are some of the instructions given on how to use face shield.

Where can I buy face shields?

Due to the indefinite closure of most public spaces and businesses, purchases can be done online with relative ease depending on your location. 3M is a great place to start as they are known to manufacture industry-standard respirators and face shields. Prices start from as low as $6 and vary with the complexity of the shield itself.

Amazon is a third party vendor for the face shield mask s. On Amazon, you can order for the face shield mask s and have them delivered right at your doorstep.

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Face shields for Kids

Mask for coronavirus should not be worn by children under 2 years of age. However, older children often are vectors of contagious illnesses. Consequently, encouraging and teaching them to wear a mask is a step in the right direction. You can also use children’s face shields.

Teaching a child to wear a mask, however, is easier said than done. Many children are frightened by masks or just don’t like them. Keep working on it. You can try to win a child over with fun characters on the face shield mask, rewards, or games. You can also convince them by setting the example yourself. Try turning the face shield mask into a craft project that they can wear proudly.

Face guard mask or no face guard mask, children should never go with you to the grocery store or to run essential errands during this pandemic. If your children need to play in a public space, go somewhere you can easily keep your distance from other people. In a public space where people are watching a game people should adhere to the regulations of always wearing a mask.

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Personal Protective Equipments.

This is a term used to refer to equipment that is meant to protect the user from certain occupational hazards that are attached to the area of work. In places of work having these persona protective equipment makes sure the spread of the virus is mitigated. For the purposes of this article, we will look at Personal Protective Equipment as equipment that is used by frontline medical workers to protect themselves from infection when handling patients that have tested positive for coronavirus.

Personal protective equipment is a wide category. The equipment can be in form of masks, surgical gloves or even helmets. There are also equipment to assist in breathing for medical workers.

These are important for medical workers that are in direct contact with positive coronavirus patients. It is essential that they protect themselves even as they work to care for these patients.

The World Health Organization has issued policies that require member states to provide personal protective equipment for their healthcare workers for free. This is to aid them in the fight against coronavirus. The prices of the equipment have also been subsidized to ease purchase and logistics, especially to areas where the health systems have been completely overwhelmed.

It is important for people and authorities to realize that there is no waiving of the idea of using masks. The spread of the virus has to be contained. In recent times, many fake waivers have been created on Photoshop. However, there is no law that allows people to be in public without masks. The virus is serious and it is the collective responsibility of the general public to obey the laws in place. Wearing a faceguard mask makes the spread of the virus less and less likely. While in public, nobody knows if the next person has the virus. Having the faceguard masks makes it easier to run your day-to-day tasks.

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