Common face mask misconceptions
In many countries worldwide, wearing a face mask is mandatory in places where social distancing is not possible, like in schools, petrol stations, hair salons, and retail stores. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, this is to help prevent the spread of the recent coronavirus outbreak. However, there is still so much to learn about coronavirus since there is a lot of misinformation circulating about face masks. Here are a few common misconceptions and facts concerning face masks:
Masks can be made from any material
With some people against the whole idea of wearing face masks, there are various sellers online offering lace and mesh masks for purchase. These vendors claim that the masks are more breathable. However, these masks do not fulfil their function of trapping respiratory droplets, which can be passed on through coughing, talking, and sneezing. The best masks are made using a tight-knit material and a filter pocket to prevent respiratory droplets from passing through the mask.
Only sick people should wear face masks
Just because you don’t have any symptoms does not mean you are not sick. According to the CDC, pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic people can still spread the coronavirus, even if they don’t know if they’re sick. To prevent the coronavirus’s spread to others, it is safe to wear a mask any time you are in public or with people who are not from your household. This lowers the risk of spreading respiratory droplets from coughing, talking, and sneezing.
Since the coronavirus lingers in the air long enough for someone to breathe it in, it is advisable to always have a mask on. Wearing it creates a barrier that traps the virus-droplets that might still be in the air. In simpler terms, if you’re not wearing a face mask and you breathe in the same air as an infected person who isn’t wearing a face mask, then you are at a higher risk of being infected too.
Wearing a face mask makes you inhale too much carbon dioxide
Wearing a mask properly means it covers your nose’s bridge, just above your nostrils, and extends down below your chin without leaving any gaps on the sides and completely covering your mouth. Some people suggest that medical face masks trap carbon dioxide that people breathe out and cause them to inhale it in more. WHO, however, says that prolonged use of face masks does not in any way lead to carbon dioxide intoxication.
Moreover, healthcare practitioners have been wearing masks for decades and have never been poisoned from CO2. The feeling some people get from being unable to breathe well is not related to oxygen intake. In case you have anxiety problems while wearing a mask, it is recommended that you practice wearing it for short periods while gradually increasing the duration. The more you have it on, the less you will notice it.
Wearing face masks weakens your immune system
This misconception comes from the idea that the human immune system becomes more potent when exposed to bacteria and other pathogens. However, according to the American Lung Association, there is no evidence that this is true. The fact is wearing a mask and washing your hands will not negatively affect your immune system, especially if you’re an adult with a well-developed immune system.
You don’t need a mask if you’ve had coronavirus before
If you had tested positive for coronavirus before or had a positive result to an antibody test, you may think you do not need to wear a mask. The truth is, at this time, there is no way of knowing whether having coronavirus provides immunity from the disease again or even how long your immunity might last. Therefore, this means that if you do not wear a mask, you could potentially catch the virus again and spread it to others.
You do not need to stay at home if you’re wearing a mask
As you decide about going out, face masks are just one strategy of the various prevention measures against COVID-19. Wearing a mask in public is highly effective and can make you and those around you safe. However, it does not mean that things are back to normal. It is vital to stay home whenever you can to help reduce the spread of the virus.
Cloth masks do not protect you
On the contrary, cloth face masks are useful. They offer a barrier between your nose and mouth and those around you. This makes it difficult for coronavirus droplets to spread through sneezes, coughs, and speaking to other people. The primary use of cloth masks keeps you from unknowingly spreading any diseases to others, and they also indirectly help you avoid touching your face.
You do not have to social distance if you wear a mask
Wearing a mask minimizes your chance of spreading or catching the novel coronavirus; however, it is not enough to use it as your only precaution. Unlike N95 masks that are medically certified, the face masks you purchase or make at home only have one fabric layer instead of three, and most of them do not have a filter. Social distancing means that you are putting more space between you and others, reducing the chances of the virus from spreading.
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