As the US continues to slowly consider reopening the country, the one thing that doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon is face masks.
However, there seems to be a lot of controversy about these little pieces of cloth that have become a new wardrobe staple. Everyone has thoughts and opinions about how to wear them, when to wear them, or if masking up is even necessary at all.
We did some research to debunk some of the top myths about face masks, so you can wear a mask confidently.
MYTH: Only sick people need to wear masks
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 40% of all COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic. Not only that, but a person exposed to coronavirus might not show visible signs of illness until up to 48 hours later.
Long story short, just because you don’t look or feel sick, doesn’t mean you aren’t. The best way to avoid transmitting the virus to others is by wearing a mask, to trap respiratory droplets from escaping when you talk, cough or sneeze.
New studies also show that the virus can be airborne via aerosols, which can hang in the air for up to 14 minutes after a conversation ends. Masks help reduce the risk of the virus becoming airborne, protecting you and others from exposure.
MYTH: Wearing a mask will weaken my immune system
This popular myth is not supported by any scientific evidence, according to The American Lung Association.
It likely gets its roots from the idea that our immune systems are strengthened by exposure to pathogens we interact with on a daily basis.
Wearing a mask decreases your chance of contracting COVID-19 by preventing infectious respiratory droplets from entering your nose and mouth. It does not, however, prevent all microbes from entering your body.
This myth stems from the idea that the human immune system is strengthened by exposure to bacteria and other pathogens.
Beaumont Health said there is no need to worry about this — washing your hands and wearing a mask won’t have any negative impact on your immune system. But it will protect you from contracting COVID-19!
MYTH: Wearing a mask causes you to breathe in more CO2
One of the biggest arguments for not wearing a mask is that they make it difficult to breathe, or that they trap carbon dioxide, causing you to inhale it and making you sick.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says this is not true and that the prolonged use of surgical masks won’t lead to CO2 intoxication. Carbon dioxide passes through the mask, just like oxygen does when you breathe in.
Surgeons and other health care providers have worn masks for long periods of time, even up to 12 hours, for years without struggling to breathe properly.
If you struggle with anxiety, breathing troubles, or sensory issues, you may need to practice wearing your mask in shorter periods of time to get used to it. However, most people can wear a mask and breathe perfectly fine.
MYTH: Wearing a mask means you don’t have to social distance
This widely believed myth is not accurate. With a global pandemic, this can’t be an either/or situation.
The WHO says masks alone don’t provide enough protection to fully stop the spread of COVID-19.
The CDC recommends wearing a mask AND maintaining a six-foot distance while outside of your home.
Masks help prevent you from spreading the virus to others, but they don’t necessarily prevent someone without a mask from sneezing or coughing on you. It’s important to take every necessary precaution to truly protect everyone.
MYTH: Cloth masks don’t protect you from COVID-19
Cloth masks may not be as effective as the N95 surgical masks, but for everyday use, they are still an effective means of protection against coronavirus.
Wearing a cloth mask properly over your nose and mouth works to prevent virus-containing respiratory droplets from escaping.
According to the Mayo Clinic, countries that required the use of masks early on in the pandemic have seen a significant decline in cases, proving that this is an effective method.
This also ensures that everyone is protected, even from those who may be asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19.