Face Mask vs Face Shields. Which One is Better?
You’ve got your face mask. You’ve gotten used to it. You’re doing your part in protecting yourself. But.. is there a more effective protection measure against coronavirus? According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, there is. It’s called a face shield or face guard.
Face shields are the latest protection measure against the spread of novel coronavirus. They are easily adjustable and can be worn in any public setting due to their discreet appearance. Their goal is to protect against potential exposure to respiratory droplets that spread from an infected person through coughing, sneezing, or talking, and one of its best features is that it prevents you from touching your face. If you are wondering how they might differ from your regular face mask, you are not alone.
Are Face Shields Better than Face Masks?
The use of face masks has been required in almost every major city across the globe since April 15. But, are they really effective? Reporting in the Journal of the American Medical Association, experts led by Dr. Eli Perencevich, an infectious disease physician, and the Iowa City VA Health Care System, said: "In a simulation study, face shields were shown to reduce immediate viral exposure by 96% when worn by a simulated health care worker within 18 inches of a cough."
While face masks have limited durability due to the constant need to wash them once used, face shields can be reused indefinitely and are easily cleaned with soap and water, or your classic disinfectant. Plus, they provide better comfort since they keep in place without further adjustment –unlike face masks which you’re constantly readjusting with your hands, touching your face and increasing the risk of infection.
Most importantly, face shields protect the main areas of concern: the nose, mouth, eyes and ears, while face masks only cover two of these.
“Even after 30 minutes, the protective effect exceeded 80% and face shields blocked 68% of small particle aerosols,10 which are not thought to be a dominant mode of transmission of SARS-CoV-2.”
The Pros & Cons of Face Shields
For these reasons, the idea of having face shields included in strategies to significantly reduce transmission in any public setting has been popularized across the nation. To make it easier for you, we’ve created some simple, easy to follow graphics showing the pros and cons of each protective measure:
According to infectious disease physician, Dr. Amesh Adalja, Senior Scholar John Hopkins, “Though face shields are open below and on the sides, I don’t believe that that’s a major risk for transmission. Remember that these respiratory droplets are likely to fall to the ground within six feet, they act under the action of gravity, so to see an upwardly moving droplet would be, you know, to defy the laws of gravity.”
Face shields are also a great alternative for those who cannot wear a face mask. “I work with people with hearing impairment and it wouldn’t be possible with a face mask, if it wasn’t for our Face Shields we wouldn't be able to interact”, says Sarah.
With this being said, it is clear that the one key advantage that face shields provide relies in the benefit of not touching your face while still protecting your eyes. This feature, backed up by multiple physicians, strongly outweighs any other deficiency that people might postulate about the protective gear. So, are face shields more effective than face masks against the spread of coronavirus? As of today, and based on the studies done with each protective measure, yes.
Nothing replaces social distancing and washing hands to stay safe. The six feet distance and constant washing of hands are by far the two most successful and effective ways to avoid spread. But if you do decide to go for face shields, make sure that it provides you with full coverage. It doesn’t hurt to mention that this is something you will be using on the daily, so finding one that provides comfort is key.
Check out our Face Guard USA Selections.