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September 17, 2020 | Farah Jassawalla

Are Face Shields Better Than Face Masks for Protection Against COVID-19?

Face masks have become a part of our normal lives since the advent of COVID-19. However, face shields have also been introduced for protection against the virus, leading to a debate about which one is better. Face masks cover the mouth and nose area and are mainly made from cloth. They can cause a number of difficulties for those wearing them, such as skin irritation, muffled voices, and strained breathing. In such instances, face shields prove to the better option. They are made from clear plastic and cover the entire face.

Protection from COVID-19

The novel coronavirus has brought about significant changes in our lives. Without a vaccine for the virus, it has become necessary for individuals to carry out strict protection measures against it. The coronavirus spreads from air particles and surfaces carrying germs of the virus. It is most commonly spread by direct contact amongst people, where one person coughs or sneezes and particles are transmitted to the other person's airway when they breathe in the particles. Wearing a face mask or using a face shield is the best form of protection from COVID-19.

Moreover, covering the face does not completely protect a person since germs also spread from touching. Hence, washing hands repeatedly and using a hand sanitizer is necessary. People should not touch their mouth, face, nose, and eyes after coming in contact with foreign surfaces.

Will a face shield protect you from the coronavirus?

While face masks were being used to prevent the spread of COVID-19, face shields have also become more common amongst people. There are mixed opinions regarding face shields alone being enough for protection against the coronavirus. Some researchers say that face shields are highly convenient since they also cover the eyes and protect the one wearing them from coming into contact with germs. However, the face shield must be extended till below the chin while covering the ears as well. A gap between the forehead and the shield would render its use ineffective. Some researchers do provide the opposite view regarding face shields, but statistics show that most people wearing face shields remained protected from COVID-19. For those wondering whether a face shield is enough for COVID-19, the answer is that it will be useful if properly used, alongside necessary precautions against the virus.

Face shields versus face masks

Since many people feel that face masks can get uncomfortable to wear, especially in the heat, face shields seem like a better option. Masks are disposable regardless of the material they are made of since they can only filter particles up to a certain limit, after which they are useless. On the other hand, face shields are reusable and need only be washed from time to time. 

While face masks cover your nose and mouth, face shields become a proper barrier for the face and stop you from touching your face. People often need to slip down their masks to communicate because voices get muffled, but this is unnecessary with a face shield because you can talk easily while staying protected when wearing it. For added protection, people can use both face masks and shields simultaneously, but if they find masks uncomfortable, they can easily switch to face shields. Social distancing has also become more comfortable with the use of face shields since people can see your face and expressions and hear you properly while talking.

How effective are face shields in preventing transmission of COVID-19?

Even though many studies have not been conducted to understand how effectively face shields can prevent transmission of the coronavirus, there are still several kinds of research available on the topic. According to a study, face shields can reduce virus transmission by 96% when worn by a worker in health care whose proximity to a cough was 18 inches. The virus particles that can be inhaled while socializing are reduced by 92% when wearing a face shield and standing 6 feet from the other person.If you face the symptoms of COVID-19, the first thing you should do is isolate yourself from your family members. Furthermore, you should contact a doctor and explain your symptoms. In case your doctor recommends some tests for you, rather than getting out of the house, you can book an appointment for your screening through Cura4U and also get your results online. Face shields work best in crowded areas and offices where social distancing cannot be practiced effectively. 

Are face masks effective against COVID-19?

Even though face masks are made from cloth, they can filter out air particles and virus-carrying germs. According to multiple pieces of research conducted, face masks were the most suitable form of protection against COVID-19 since they can fit over the mouth and nose tightly and leave no space for particles to enter. Moreover, N95 masks are preferred over surgical masks since they are best at filtering small particles as compared to the latter. However, using just masks or shields is not enough. People should follow all other precautionary measures as well.

 

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Farah Jassawalla

Farah Jassawalla is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. She is also a writer, and a healthcare enthusiast, having closely observed case studies while working with Lahore's thriving general physicians at their clinics.