COVID-19 masks: Expert tips for what you should (and shouldn't) do
Credit score: Susan Merrell

Face masks are one of the vital essential measures to forestall the unfold of COVID-19, however confusion and misinformation nonetheless encompass their use.

On this new part of the pandemic, by which about 70% of People have had not less than two photographs of a COVID-19 vaccine, many could also be tempted to ditch masks altogether. However is that the best choice? There is a new, and fast-spreading omicron subvariant, popularly dubbed “Arcturus,” gaining traction within the U.S. It is estimated to account for about 15% of all current COVID-19 circumstances nationally, the CDC reported in Might.

So, if to masks or to not masks is your query, we requested UC San Francisco’s Peter Chin-Hong, MD, an infectious illness knowledgeable, for the reply.

What is the newest with COVID-19? Do folks nonetheless must put on masks?

Chin-Hong: If you wish to shield your self from COVID-19, an important factor you are able to do is keep up-to-date with the vaccine. Analysis exhibits COVID-19 boosters are about 70% efficient at stopping severe COVID-19 and hospitalization. Taking Paxlovid or different therapies like remdesivir early in the midst of an infection may also scale back the danger of hospitalization even if you’re unvaccinated.

When you’re up-to-date on the vaccine however nonetheless questioning if you’ll want to masks, then I would say it will depend on who you might be, who you reside with and the context.

When hospitalizations are excessive, everybody ought to put on a high-quality masks. However after we’re seeing medium numbers of hospitalizations, folks at excessive danger for severe COVID-19 ought to masks in crowded indoor settings like public transportation and airports. This would come with people who find themselves older than 65, immunocompromised, unvaccinated or not up-to-date on their booster photographs. At low ranges of hospitalizations, folks can select to put on a masks at any time, significantly within the setting of indoor public transit. When you dwell with somebody at excessive danger, you must also think about masking to assist shield them—even if you’re up-to-date along with your vaccines.

In California, you may examine the extent of COVID-19 hospitalizations in your county.

Locations the place infections unfold rapidly, like hospitals, shelters and assisted residing services might proceed to mandate masks use, no matter what number of circumstances we see.

After all, in the event you suspect you will have COVID-19 or have been identified, it is best to at all times put on a masks for not less than 5 days.

How efficient are face masks at stopping the unfold of COVID-19?

Chin-Hong: Face masks are extremely efficient at lowering COVID-19 transmission, particularly when a high-quality masks is used with different preventive measures like social distancing and frequent handwashing. No face masks offers 100% safety and never all masks are created equal.

How do masks forestall COVID-19?

Chin-Hong: The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads primarily by way of respiratory droplets—or tiny drops launched into the air when an contaminated individual talks, coughs or sneezes that may additionally decide on surfaces. These droplets can infect others if they arrive into contact with the nostril, mouth or eyes by way of the air or if somebody has touched a contaminated floor after which touched their face. A masks helps to dam these droplets from spreading, which reduces the danger of transmission.

What kind of masks ought to I exploit?

Chin-Hong: Medical N95, KN95 and KF94 masks all filter out plenty of particles from the air and are one of the best at defending towards COVID-19. Keep away from masks with valves, which permit a wearer’s breath to cross out unfiltered, spreading germs.

Disposable surgical masks are much less efficient however nonetheless scale back your COVID-19 danger particularly if properly becoming.

Fabric masks aren’t really helpful however are higher than no masks. Sporting a surgical masks beneath a fabric masks makes it more practical.

How ought to I put on my masks?

Chin-Hong: The masks ought to cowl your nostril and mouth and match snugly towards the edges of your face with out gaps. Wash your arms earlier than placing in your masks and keep away from touching it whereas carrying it. Take away the masks by the ear loops or ties and keep away from touching the entrance of the masks.

What number of instances can you utilize a masks earlier than changing it?

Chin-Hong: Clear and undamaged N95, KN95 and KF94 masks may be reused for a couple of days. Surgical masks are meant for one-time use, however a reused surgical masks is healthier than no masks. Fabric masks must be washed after every use with cleaning soap and water and dried. In case you have entry to a dryer, dry the masks on a excessive warmth setting.

Can carrying a face masks trigger pores and skin irritation or zits?

Chin-Hong: Sporting a masks for a very long time may cause pores and skin irritation or zits, however these may be prevented through the use of a clear masks and correctly washing and moisturizing your face.

Can carrying a face masks trigger carbon dioxide (CO2) poisoning?

Chin-Hong: No, carrying a face masks doesn’t trigger carbon dioxide poisoning. The quantity of carbon dioxide that accumulates inside a masks is negligible and never dangerous to the physique.

What if I get COVID-19?

Chin-Hong: If you’re 12 years or older and at excessive danger of creating severe COVID-19, discover out in the event you’re eligible for the antiviral remedy Paxlovid by speaking to your well being care supplier or pharmacist. If taken inside the first 5 days after signs begin, Paxlovid can cease the virus from replicating and scale back your possibilities of creating severe COVID-19. Remdesivir and molnupiravir are different choices.

Paxlovid can forestall being hospitalized with COVID-19 by as a lot as 90% if you’re at high-risk for the event of great illness. It additionally reduces the danger of “long-COVID,” a situation with signs like shortness of breath, “mind fog” and even temper adjustments that persist for weeks after an individual recovers from an preliminary COVID-19 an infection.

COVID-19 is right here to remain so carrying a masks is an inexpensive and simple approach to keep away from getting contaminated and having to remain house. It could additionally assist shield you from colds and flu.

COVID-19 masks: Professional suggestions for what it is best to (and should not) do (2023, June 1)
retrieved 4 June 2023

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