Face masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but some people find them uncomfortable or simply unbearable to wear.
There’s another good option available for people who just can’t get used to putting a face mask on while in public, experts say.
Plastic face shields offer another COVID-19 deterrent that may seem easier to some, suggests Dr. Amesh Adalja.
These are transparent plastic or plexiglass (plexiglass) shields that cover the entire face, from the forehead to the chin or below. An elastic band holds the shield in place.
Face shields have been shown to reduce viral exposure by 96% when worn within 50 cm of coughing and by 92% at the currently recommended 1.5 m social distance, according to a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“Over time, these masks can replace the face shields,” Adalja said. “I think there’s a lot more evidence to support their use.»
Shields offer a number of advantages over masks, but also a few disadvantages, experts say.
Because they extend down from the forehead, the shields protect the eyes as well as the nose and mouth, said Dr. Frank Esper, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Center. Viruses can enter the body through the eyes.
Face-to-face communication is best done with a protective mask. “People can see your whole face through the shield, so it’s easier for people to talk,” Adalia said.
“A lot of people, when they talk to people, take off their mask or put it down. People reflexively do this because their voice is muffled by the mask, ” Adalja said. “You can see people’s facial expressions much better with a screen protector.»
The shields are relatively light and comfortable to wear. They are also reusable if a person takes the time to clean them with an antibacterial cloth or soap and water after a walk, Adaglia and Esper said.
Esper stressed that regular cleaning will be necessary, as one of the drawbacks of protective screens is that they provide a comfortable surface on which the virus can survive.
“We know that this virus likes to live on plastic much better than on porous materials like cloth, paper or cardboard,” he explained.
Masks protect others from the germs that you carry with you. Face shields do the opposite, protecting you from being infected by people around you.
Doctors who work with sick people wear both a face mask and a protective mask, and this combination provides better protection against the spread of the virus, Esper said.