There is so much information and misinformation out there about face masks,
how can you be sure what’s accurate? We put our expert, Baton Rouge
General Physician Dr. Rachel Brady to the test to provide us with the
real answers on some of the common myths out there and here is what our
expert had to say:
Myth: Cloth masks don't protect you.
Cloth face masks are effective and prevent particles from escaping your
nose and mouth and infecting those around you. Others wear their mask
to provide the same level of protection for you. They also serve as a
reminder to avoid touching your face. Researchers from around the world
have found different kinds of masks can significantly reduce the spread
of coronavirus, though new studies have shown that some masks are better
than others. Researchers are also now examining the possibility that masks
might offer some personal protection from the virus, despite initial thinking
that they mostly protect others.
Myth: Cloth masks are not as effective as other masks.
Studies show that N-95 masks are the most effective masks at reducing
the spread of COVID. However, supplies of N-95s are limited and experts
suggest that they be reserved for medical personnel who work closely with
COVID patients. For everyday use, cloth masks have been proven to be effective,
though not as effective as an N-95. A
study that included researchers from Duke University found that, in a test of
several masks, an N95 mask was most effective in reducing droplet emissions,
but a three-layer surgical mask and a mask made with a combination of
cotton and polypropylene were the next best alternatives. They also found
that some two-layer cotton, pleated-style masks performed better than
other types of masks, including a one-layer cotton mask and a knitted
mask. Still, all three were superior to a bandanna and the unmasked group.
Myth: Masks can cause carbon dioxide (CO2) build-up and make you sick.
Unless you are wearing an N-95 mask, you should have zero concerns about
rebreathing CO2 while wearing your mask. And for 99% of the public, even
an N95 mask should cause no issues. However, people with sleep apnea or
lung disease may be more sensitive to CO2 levels and should exercise more
caution. If possible, they should switch to a cloth or surgical mask.
Myth: You only need to wear a mask if you feel sick.
False. Many people who have coronavirus can be asymptomatic, spreading
the disease to others without even knowing it. This can mean potentially
exposing those with underlying conditions who are at a higher risk of
developing severe symptoms from COVID-19. By wearing a mask, you protect
others around you and when they wear theirs, they are protecting you. A recent
study from Beijing found that mask-wearing was 79 percent effective in preventing infected,
pre-symptomatic people from spreading the virus to family members.
Myth: You don't need to wear a mask outside.
We know it’s safer to be outside, but that doesn’t mean that
your risk of catching the virus outdoors is zero. If you are unable to
social distance outside, it’s best to wear your mask around people
you don’t live with or when you are passing someone on the sidewalk.
Just in case, you should always bring a mask with you anytime you leave
the house.If you are participating in outdoor activities by yourself or
with people you live with, a mask isn't required.
Myth: A loose-fitting mask works just fine.
This is false. You want a mask that will fit snugly against the sides
of your face and completely covers your mouth and nose to prevent respiratory
droplets from getting in and out. It is important to make sure you can
still breathe comfortably though with the mask on.
Myth: Your face mask doesn't need to be washed.
Masks collect germs, so the CDC advises that you wash cloth masks after
each use. You can wash your mask with detergent and water in the washing
machine. It's fine to launder it with other clothes and dry it in
Rachel Brady, DO
Baton Rouge General Physicians - Family Medicine (Livingston)
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