Which is better? Face shield or a face mask in this coronavirus pandemic?
- It has been over six months into the coronavirus pandemic.
- But controversies, debates, myths, and doubts surrounding it continues.
- As regards the PPE, people are confused about the role of face masks?
- They are not for certain clear on which type of face masks are better.
And whether one should wear a face mask or a face shield?
Face mask-the common and essential accessory
It is a common sight to see people worldwide wearing face masks in public areas. They are supposed to be good and protect the wearer from infected droplets and aerosolized particles.
They are easy to procure, are cheap relatively, and most can be washed or sterilized. But they have their not-so-good sides as well.
They are awkward and uncomfortable to wear for many people. The wearer’s words get muffled. The lips and expressions of the wearer cannot be visualized. If care is not taken while applying or removing the face mask, it will instead of protecting transmit the virus.
Besides, though they protect others, they do not necessarily and completely protect the wearer from the virus. Therefore, many researchers are now advocating face shields.
Face Shield-is it better?
A face shield is made of a clear curved plastic panel. It does not only cover the mouth and nose of the wearer But the whole face of the person including the eyes and forehead is covered.
Transmission of the virus has been said to occur through the eyes. Hence with a face shield, this mode of viral transmission is also taken care of.
The face shield is also more comfortable to wear. The wearer finds it easier to put on and remove. It can be reused and cleaning it is simple and effective.
Eli Perencevich, Professor of Internal Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine states:
“We feel face shields are far more effective,”
In 2014, a study revealed that a face shield can prevent 96% of the flu virus from reaching the person in five minutes.
But no studies have tried to find out whether a face shield can protect the opposite person from acquiring the infection from the wearer of the face shield. Therefore, scientists are a bit wary to recommend it for all in this pandemic.
Saskia Popescu, Infection prevention epidemiologist at George Mason University states:
“We don’t have the research to say that they will offer protection for those around you, should you be sick,”
But based on the law of physics, the other person is likely also to be protected.
More benefits of face shields
Doctors want to do research on this aspect of the face shield. But they are aware that this type of research may not get funds because as Michael Edmond, hospital epidemiologist at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine says:
“We’re more interested as a society in treatment than we are in prevention,”
“There’s never money to do this kind of work. It’s never been prioritized.”
Additionally, there is no chance to wear the shield wrong. The wearer also cannot touch his face when he is wearing the shield. And one can see the facial expressions and read the lips of the wearer.
This is especially important for deaf and hearing-impaired people. For people worried about the passing of droplets and infected aerosols from the sides of the face shield, they can consider wearing both a face shield and a face mask for double protection.