The Truth About Face Masking
A face mask is a thick mask generally made of soft textiles, most commonly cotton, worn across the nose and mouth. Though not a medical device, these masks have many cosmetic benefits. In some situations they can be useful for respiratory problems (e.g., sinusitis) and pain management (e.g., toothache), though they do not address the primary health problem: excess skin weight. And, while cloth masks can be comfortable to wear, they do little to decrease facial weight, because the wearer’s weight is distributed differently from the weight of the cloth or padding.
Some face masks have two fabric enclosing compartments, one for each nostril. Thus, when a face mask is worn, both the size and the shape of the wearer’s nose change. When physical distancing is impossible and when even more efficient exhalation valves are unavailable, cloth face masks can be worn, with each opening facing in different directions. This makes for comfortable wearing and easier cleaning.
Wearing a face mask that causes distancing can increase the spread of the virus. This is because the virus is able to travel in only one direction at a given time. It does not like being forced to spread in a different direction, because it is carrying diseases-including the deadly herpes simplex-in a dormant state, where it cannot multiply. If the face mask wearer’s hands are dirty, or the skin on the face becomes dampened, or there is some other factor that impairs the ability to breathe, then the virus can move faster through the body.
In public settings, the increased spread of the virus can cause significant health problems, especially among young children who may be unresponsive to parental instruction. For example, if a school nurse wore a face mask that caused distancing around people, it is possible for several children to contract encephalitis, a potentially fatal viral disease. Because children can become unresponsive to instructions, especially while they are unattended, this scenario presents both a potential risk to children and an unnecessary risk to adults.
As a result of the potential for social distancing, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a rule in 1998 that every individual in public settings must wear a face mask whenever they will be in direct contact with the public. The rule also requires schools to ensure their students wear a face mask when teaching, caring for sick children, administering medication, or handling contaminated objects. This measure was implemented in response to reports of individuals coming into contact with the virus through the nose, mouth, or nose.
The problem with face masking is that it can do little to reduce the risk of spreading the disease. It is true that some people who wear them remain healthier. However, if no other protection is available, such as nose studs or full bodied masks, these products can provide little to no protection from the transmission of pathogens. In order to truly protect against the spread of disease, it is important for everyone to take precautions and use personal protective equipment at all times. The best protection is to wear a face mask at all times.