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'Do You Need to Wear a Mask With a Face Shield?'

woman face shield mask
By Elizabeth Hanes, BSN, RNNovember 4, 2020
From the WebMD Archives

Face masks are important for reducing the spread of COVID-19, but they aren’t always comfortable to wear, which has some people looking for other options like wearing a face shield instead.

Big question, though: Will wearing a face shield alone reduce the spread of COVID-19, or do you still need to wear a face mask with a face shield?

The answer: You still need to wear a mask, even with a shield.

Face shields may feel less confining than a mask, and they allow you to see other people’s faces, which can be comforting (or vital, if you rely on lip reading for communication). Unfortunately, though, shields don’t deliver the same protection as masks.

Shields do not absorb the droplets in your breath the way a cloth face covering does. They merely deflect some of the droplets downwards. Because face shields are open at the bottom, there’s a chance any germs in a person’s breath might escape into the air, which is exactly how SARS-CoV-2 spreads. That’s why experts do not recommend using a face shield in place of a face mask.

Face shields do protect your eyes from exposure to viral particles and can keep you from touching your face. And if you’re in a high-risk circumstance, like caring for someone who is ill with COVID-19, wearing a shield in addition to a mask can offer an additional layer of protection for the mouth and nose.

If you decide to wear a face shield, be sure to wear a cloth mask under it. And wash the face shield after each use, to clean off any germs sticking to the surface of the plastic.




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