As coronavirus is continuously spreading all over the world, simple precautions like wearing a face mask, maintaining social distance, and washing hands, etc. are declared important in preventing exposure to disease.
However, with an increase in the virus related information, a lot of myths about wearing face masks have also started circulating the internet. Many myths have disguised themselves as truths. If these myths are allowed to circulate freely they may become a cause of the spread of infection.
To assist you to choose right from wrong, we have thrown light on the popular face mask myths and have stated the truth as well. So, let’s go through the myths below and get our facts straight.
Debunking Popular Face Mask Myths
Myth 1: I am not sick so I don’t have to wear a face mask.
Fact: It does not matter if you have the disease or not, you should wear a face mask whenever you go outside. This is for your safety and the safety of people around you.
Many people believe that they do not have COVID-19 so there is no need to wear a mask. The problem is you may have COVID-19 even if you are not showing any symptoms. Studies show that 40% of people do not develop symptoms after getting infected by COVID-19.
It means they can transfer the virus by sneezing, coughing, talking, and shaking hands even if they think they do not have the virus. However, if you wear a mask, it will prevent the respiratory droplets that carry the virus from getting transmitted to healthy individuals.
Myth 2: Science does not prove any significance of wearing a face mask.
Fact: Recent studies do prove that wearing surgical masks can prevent the transmission of infection.
Some people believe that science does not prove a significant role of face masks in the prevention of infections like influenza, COVID-19, etc. But that is again just a myth. Researchers have conducted experiments and found that surgical masks and respirators reduce the transmission of infection in health care workers and the general public. Different layers of filters are used in these masks which reduce the transmission of droplets from the infected person and the risk of a healthy person acquiring the infection.
Cloth masks also prevent the spread of respiratory droplets and reduce their transmission. However, more study needs to be conducted on the effectiveness of wearing cloth masks.
Myth 3: We are wearing face masks. Now there is no need to practice social distancing.
Fact: Wearing a mask is a part of prevention. More steps like keeping social distance, washing hands, etc. need to be taken to make sure you don’t catch an infection.
If you wear a mask and think that it will prevent all the respiratory droplets and aerosols from being transmitted then you are wrong. No face mask or respirator can prevent 100% droplets from spreading in the air. They only play a role in reducing the number of droplets from being transmitted.
Some people cover their mouth and not their nose. Some uncover their mouth while talking. Such habits promote the spread of infection. If you are not keeping a distance of 6 feet, wearing a mask becomes highly crucial. So, keep a distance of 6 feet if possible, wear a mask whenever you are around people, and wash hands for at least 20 seconds to prevent COVID-19.
Myth 4: Wearing a mask will cause difficulty in breathing.
Fact: All over the world, many healthcare workers wear masks and none of them faces any difficulty in breathing. Masks do not cause hindrance in breathing.
Healthcare workers wear masks for even 10 to 12 hours. Neither do they get faint due to difficulty in breathing nor do they acquire CO2 poisoning or have low oxygen level. It shows that we can function well with the masks just like healthcare workers.
If you think that you cannot breathe properly with a mask on then it might be a psychological issue. People who have anxiety tend to feel that way often. For this issue, you can practice wearing a mask for a short time then increase the duration gradually. Soon, wearing a face mask will feel just fine.
Myth 5: There is no benefit of wearing a cloth/cotton mask.
Fact: Cloth masks also reduce the exposure to coronavirus and similar infectious viruses.
People wear masks to prevent exposure to infectious agents like coronavirus. N95 masks show great filtration and prevention but they are mostly recommended for healthcare providers to prevent critical supplies shortage. Because of this reason many people wear cloth masks as a precaution.
These masks have played a significant role in the prevention of the transfer of COVID-19. Cloth masks that are made up of heavyweight cotton and have more thread count are more effective than lightweight cotton masks. They may not prevent the infectious disease as much as an N95 mask does but we believe that something is always better than nothing.
Myth 6: I had COVID-19 before so I don’t need to wear a mask now. My body has developed immunity against this illness.
Fact: You may have developed immunity against COVID-19 but it is not certain for how long you will stay immune to it.
Studies prove that the immune system of corona infected people produces antibodies that protect them from acquiring the same infection again. But it is not clear for how long protective antibodies stay in the blood.
Recently, cases of reinfection of the corona were also reported in different parts of the world which proves that a person can develop the infection twice. It is quite rare but still possible. So, wearing a mask is important even if you have had COVID-19 earlier.
Many people also test corona positive after getting recovered from the infection. It is not clear if they still carry infection-causing agents or not. But if they still have the virus they can be the cause of its spread.