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Does Wearing Masks Really Slow The Spread Of COVID-19

by | Health & Wellness

Sep 6, 2020

Many people have mixed opinions on the use of face masks and whether actually wearing masks can help slow or reduce the spread of COVID-19. In this article, we have come up with different findings from what studies or research say about the use of masks or face covering.

It is believed that transmission of the coronavirus tends to occur through respiratory droplets. These droplets are discharged when people speak, sneeze, or even breathe out, according to different sources. If these droplets are released and then subsequently settle in the mouth or inhaled by people around you, they can become infected.

When you wear a mask, there will be a physical barrier that stops the droplets from going out. As a result, wearing masks will help slow COVID-19 from spreading, especially the way it’s supposed to.

So does that mean the mask is 100 percent effective in stopping the virus from spreading? Research suggests that people who wear masks significantly lower the risk of spreading or transmitting Covid-19 to others. So it would be best to follow other safety precautions as well. [1]

How much protection can a mask give you from COVID-19?

The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend face masks to slow the coronavirus’s spread. Using face masks and other preventive measures will also go a long way to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Preventive measures such as using face masks, washing our hands frequently, avoiding crowded areas, and social distancing will drastically narrow our chances and slow the spread of COVID-19.

Face masks weren’t recommended at the initial stage of the pandemic because experts were not aware of the extent to which people with the COVID-19 virus can spread it before the symptoms start showing.

So later, more studies and research-led public health groups worldwide recommended using face masks to help slow the spread of the virus.

The CDC advises using cloth face masks for the public instead of the surgical and N95 masks used by healthcare providers.

Also, the CDC says that asymptomatic people can spread COVID-19. This is another reason why everyone needs to wear masks, especially in public places, including staying at least 6 feet away from other people.

So, all these go to show that face masks are an effective method for slowing the spread of Covid-19.

Who Should Not and Why They Should Not Wear a Face Mask

1. Kids younger than two years old: Because masks are harder to breathe through, using a mask on children younger than two years old may increase the risk of suffocating. A snug fit will give them less air access, and a loose fit will not provide adequate protection. Also, if an infant is having a hard time breathing, they will be unable to take the mask off by themselves and, therefore, suffocate.

In the case of older infants, they are not likely to keep the mask on. They will try to remove it and use their hands to touch their faces. [2]

Wearing masks may be prioritized when it is difficult to keep a safe distance of 6 feet from others. Ensuring proper mask size and fit and reminding children from time to time about the importance of wearing masks and how to wear them properly may help address these issues.

2. Anyone who has difficulty breathing: Many masks can be uncomfortable and cause issues to people with respiratory illnesses such as Asthma and COPD.

If you have chronic respiratory conditions, covering your mouth and nose can be very challenging. The physical barrier of the mask makes it tougher to take in air. It also confines some carbon dioxide as you exhale, which means breathing in air that is warmer and moister. 

According to Dr. David Stukus, a member of the Medical Scientific Council for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), he says that wearing masks is not an issue for people with very well-controlled or mild asthma. However, most people with asthma, even if it’s severe, can manage to wear a face mask or face covering for a short period of time.” [3]

3. Anyone unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise incapable of removing the face mask without assistance or aid.

Other Possibilities If You Should Wear A Mask Or Not

  1. People should not wear face masks while engaged in actions that may cause the mask to become wet. While engaging in an activity like swimming or bathing, which may cause the mask to become wet, it is important to maintain a safe distance from others.
  2. Younger children, especially those in preschool, may be unable to wear a mask properly, particularly for longer durations. However, wearing masks may be prioritized when it is difficult to maintain a safe distance of 6 feet from others.
  3. People engaged in high-intensity activities, like playing football and running, may not wear a mask if it causes difficulty breathing. In such a case, CDC recommends conducting such activities in a location with greater or better ventilation and air exchange and maintaining physical distance from others.
  4. People who are deaf or have difficulty hearing or those who care for or interact with someone with a hearing problem may be unable to wear masks if they rely on lipreading to communicate. It is recommended to wear a clear mask in such situations. However, if a clear mask isn’t available, consider writing on a piece of paper to communicate or minimize background noise to make communication clearer.

Below are expert advice if it is unbearable while wearing a face mask.

You’re not required to wear a mask at home except if a family member or someone you live with has coronavirus. So stay home if you can, except you don’t have a choice. That way, you’ll avoid exposing yourself to public settings.

Many people find it difficult or harder to breathe when it’s hot and humid. So it will be best to check the weather first before going out. That will help you go out only when it’s a bit cooler outside. 

Sometimes it can take a few days to get used to wearing a mask. So it would help to practice at home to get used to the sensation.

Pick a comfortable face covering. A mask made from a moisture-wicking and breathable fabric can help reduce the difficulty of breathing. These kinds of masks are open at the bottom and still can provide a protective barrier.

Make it quick when you go out shopping. Get what you need as fast as you can. If possible, make a list of the items you need before going out. That way, it will be easier to get your shopping done faster. You won’t linger for long in supermarkets or malls.

Bottom Line

Wearing face masks might help keep people with COVID-19 from unknowingly passing along the virus. And for masks to be more effective, it is better to apply other safety measures such as; keeping a safe distance of 6 feet from others and washing hands regularly. Wearing masks together with all these can help slow or reduce the spread of COVID-19.

According to May Chu, a clinical professor in the area of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health, putting on a face mask does not mean you can be closer to others, stop washing hands, or stop touching your face. We need these safety precautions, including wearing face masks, to slow the spread of COVID-19.

See also: Ten Signs Of Depression In Teenagers.


  1. https://www.ed.ac.uk/covid-19-response/latest-news/masks-block-spread-of-covid-linked-droplets
  2. https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resources-education/700childrens/2020/04/mask-safety-101#:~:text=Using%20a%20mask%20on%20an,off%20themselves%20and%20could%20suffocate.
  3. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/07/what-are-medical-reasons-for-not-wearing-a-mask.html

By Sara Leandro

Sara Leandro is a certified health coach who helps others feel their best through individualized lifestyle changes that meet their unique needs and health goals. She covers topics ranging from health and productivity to relationships.

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