Face shields may be a more effective, affordable, and practical solution for preventing coronavirus transmissions. Here’s why.
As governments around the world are trying to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, hundreds of millions of people are rushing in to buy face masks and cloth masks.
While surgical masks and plain cloth face masks have been the most popular option next to self-isolation, there is a new solution that experts are recommending – face shields.
Clear, plastic face shields are commonly used by most healthcare professionals, and experts are saying that they might soon replace masks as a more effective defense against COVID-19.
A report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that now is the time that we adopt this practical invention, and since face shields are quickly and affordably produced, they can help us reduce the transmissions of COVID-19 safely and significantly. (Source)
Are face shields more effective than surgical masks or cloth masks for preventing coronavirus transmission?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been continuously advocating the use of cloth masks to protect yourself from COVID-19. However, laboratory testing has suggested that they provide a low degree of filtration when it comes to virus-sized particles in the air.
That’s where face shields become a more effective option.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also published a study article authored by William G. Lindsley, in which they concluded that wearing a face shield reduces the inhalational exposure to aerosol particles by up to 96 percent. (Source)
A face shield, when worn properly, should cover the ears and the area below your chin, creating a shielding wall between your face and the outside world. Therefore, face shields do provide us with a reasonable, inexpensive, and effective alternative to regular masks.
Face shields also have a number of other advantages over surgical and cloth masks.
- Face shields can be sanitized with water and soap and reused endlessly.
- Face shields are more comfortable than masks.
- Face shields create not only a barrier between your face and the outside world but also prevent you from touching your face.
- When you’re wearing a face shield, people can fully see your face and hear your voice, whereas masks need to be pulled down.
- They’re also very easy and affordable to produce, with even brands like Apple and Nike making efforts to create their own face shields.
Surgical masks do a good job to stop respiratory virus transmission from the wearer, but they weren’t designed for that purpose. Even though masks can protect your face, they’re difficult to disinfect, difficult to talk in, and have limited durability.
But face shields are specifically designed to protect healthcare professionals.
It’s important that we make the distinction between medical-grade respiratory masks and surgical/cloth masks. Respiratory masks like KN95 provide the best respiratory protective wear when worn tightly over your nose and mouth, and they’re available in all sizes for both adults and children.
They are designed specifically to help prevent the inhalation of dangerous particles in the air, and they should not be confused with surgical masks.
If you are interested in medical-grade respiratory masks, you can browse our collection of KN95 here.
Exactly how effective are face shields for preventing coronavirus transmission?
According to a team of researchers at the University of Iowa, not enough large-scale studies have been conducted yet. But in the simulated study cited by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, face shields reduce immediate exposure by up to 96 percent, even when worn 18 inches from a coughing patient.
That same study was recreated by taking into account the recommended social distancing distance of 6 feet, and this time, the face shields reduced exposure to viruses by 92 percent.
However, even though we have solid data on how well face shields protect the wearer, no studies have been conducted to examine how well they protect the coughed virus from spreading outward from an infected wearer.
The correct way to wear a face shield.
- Face shields should extend lower than the chin.
- Face shields must be placed beyond the ears.
- There should be no gap between the wearer’s forehead and the shield’s headpiece.
This is what experts at the University of Iowa consider the best way to wear your face shield in order for it to provide you with the highest degree of protection.
Will face shields overtake face masks as the new normal?
From their added comfort to the added ability to communicate, there are plenty of reasons why we should opt for face shields over masks if we have the chance.
Face shields are also much easier to use, making them less intimidating. They prevent you from touching your face, which is something we all do unconsciously.
And while they may not completely block the respiratory virus droplets that get released during a sneeze or a cough, they will at the very least direct them downwards instead of letting them fly in front of you.
If you find a face shield that’s lightweight, clear, and it fits you well, it will provide you with a much better and more comfortable experience than traditional surgical or cloth masks.
And even though we probably won’t see mass adoption of face shields in the broader public, shields present us with a great alternative to masks, for both the public and the healthcare professionals working the front line during COVID-19.