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face mask

Adult Face Masks

For the last year, to help slow the spread of COVID-19, healthcare experts have been cautioning us to wear a mask whenever we leave the house.

Most people are listening to this advice, at least somewhat. According to one survey, 93 percent of adults in the U.S. report wearing a face mask “sometimes, often, or always” when they leave the house.

For those who are still on the fence about masking up, though, we’re here to set the record straight. Outlined below is everything you need to know about adult masks.

Why Should You Wear a Mask?

If you’re hesitant about putting on an adult mask, understanding the benefits may help to change your mind. Here are some science-based reasons to mask up, even if it feels awkward or uncomfortable:

Masks Protect Others

The number one reason to wear an adult face mask is to protect others from getting sick. Putting on a mask when you go out in public is the ultimate act of service.

Numerous studies show that masks help to prevent the spread of respiratory droplets, which are the primary way that the COVID-19 virus is spread.

For example, this study revealed that, while hundreds of droplets are spread just by saying a simple phrase, covering the nose and mouth blocks nearly all of them. Another study looked at people suffering from influenza or the common cold and found that surgical masks significantly reduced the spread of these respiratory viruses.

Masks Protect Against Asymptomatic Spread

It’s important to remember that COVID-19 is contagious even if you aren’t showing symptoms. In other words, you could feel fine but still be infected.

If you’re out and about not wearing a mask, even if you think you’re okay, you might still be spreading the virus to others who are not equipped to handle it. For example, they might be elderly, immunocompromised, or spend a lot of time around these populations.

Masks Protect You

Don’t forget, masks protect you from catching COVID-19, too.

It’s true that masks are more effective at preventing the wearer from spreading infections to others. However, they do still provide an extra layer of protection from other people’s respiratory droplets.

As you can see, the most effective approach is for all adults to wear masks when they’re outside of the house. It’s the best way for everyone to protect each other.

This is why reports show that states that implemented face mask mandates early saw greater declines in COVID-19 growth rates.

Masks Support the Economy

The economy has been seriously affected by COVID-19. Hundreds of thousands of businesses have shut down, and millions of people are out of work.

The sooner the spread of this virus is controlled, the sooner the economy can recover. Wearing masks helps to slow the spread, which in turn helps to support the economy.

Don’t you want to do your part to help businesses (especially small and local businesses) reopen? Wearing a mask is one way you can contribute.

When Should You Wear a Mask?

A good rule of thumb is for adults to wear a mask whenever they cannot socially distance (i.e., separate themselves from others by at least 6 feet).

Even if you do think you can effectively separate yourself from others, it’s still best to wear a mask anytime you’re out in public (at the grocery store, running errands, etc.). You should also mask up when using public transportation and when you’re around people who don’t live with you.

If someone you live with is sick, wearing masks can help to minimize the spread and protect other members of the household from becoming infected.

What to Look for in Adult Face Masks

At the end of the day, any type of mask is better than no mask at all.

According to infectious diseases specialist Peter Chin-Hong, comfort is one of the most important factors to consider. After all, if your mask is uncomfortable, you’re not going to wear it consistently, which is going to make it harder for you to experience the benefits of adult face masks listed above.

That being said, there are certain types of masks that are more effective at preventing the spread of disease than others. For example, a 3 ply medical mask will be more protective than a basic cloth mask.

As the name suggests, 3 ply medical masks feature 3 layers of protection. One of these layers is a filter layer, which helps to minimize the spread of respiratory droplets (and prevents other people’s respiratory droplets from hitting and infecting you). Most 3 ply masks also feature a metal strip that molds the mask to your face for a better seal (and better protection).

In the early days of the pandemic, it was hard to get your hands on 3 ply medical masks (thus, cloth masks became popular as a better-than-nothing alternative). However, 3 ply masks are more accessible now, and as a bonus, the average 3 ply mask price has dropped. For example, a 50-count box of masks is available on Amazon for less than $5.

How to Wear Your Face Mask

If you’re wearing a mask, that’s great. What’s even better, though, is if you’re wearing it correctly.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that you must wear a mask over your mouth and nose. If your mouth is covered but your nose is exposed, you’re still spreading respiratory droplets and increasing your risk of becoming infected from other people’s respiratory droplets.

In addition to wearing your mask over your mouth and nose, be sure to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before putting it on. You can also use hand sanitizer in a pinch.

Once your mask is properly positioned, resist the urge to touch it. Put it in place and leave it alone.

It’s Time to Mask Up!

As you can see, there are lots of science-backed reasons to wear adult face masks.

If you’ve been wary of masking up, consider the information discussed above. Remember, too, that wearing a mask, especially a high-quality, 3-ply medical mask, can save lives.

Image source: Unsplash

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