Is there an alternative to the foggy glasses, the mask acne, or just being a sweaty mess all the time? This is where plastic face shields come to light.
Face shields have started to show up on fashion sites and you’ve probably seen a celebrity wearing one on Instagram or television. But are face shields really the best alternative when it comes to protecting yourself from the coronavirus? How do they work? And just how effective are they when it comes to protecting against COVID-19?
What Is a Face Shield?
A face shield is a curved plastic panel attached to a tight headband that can be worn over the face. It’s supposed to fit snug and securely and it should extend beyond the chin.
Face shields are often worn during a variety of medical procedures like surgeries or any medical procedure where fragments, blood, or any other bodily fluid could get into the eyes, nose, and mouth. But nowadays, they’re also being worn in public and within the community for protection from COVID-19.
Face shields protect the entirety of your face but aren’t as effective when it comes to protecting others
Plastic face shields protect the entire face, including the eyes, nose, and mouth which can be a way for COVID-19 to enter the body. The plastic face shield panel that hangs from the forehead extends below the chin prevents or minimizes the spread of large respiratory droplets that are thought to carry the virus. They also keep you from touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend plastic face shields for the general public, especially as a substitute for face masks.
If you’re going to wear one, it should be in addition to a face mask that covers your nose and mouth. Masks are really about protecting others. Face shields are about protecting the wearer. It’s double protection from COVID-19 when you wear a plastic face shield over a face mask. The plastic face shield will protect the mask from being contaminated and block additional respiratory droplets from your entire face.
It’s hard to wear a shield incorrectly but face shields can be uncomfortable
Unlike face masks, it’s hard to wear a plastic face shield incorrectly. But people who find masks uncomfortable and are looking for an alternative may be disappointed to know that plastic face shields have cons as well. They can be bulky to wear since the shields wrap around the sides of your face to maximize protection. They can also get steamy and fog up, just like glasses. People also noticed that wearing face shields on top of their masks may find that they need to speak louder and more clearly when communicating with others due to the obstructions.
Although the public might not be ready to take on face shields in addition to masks. Adding that extra layer will be more effective but very uncomfortable for people.
Face shields are fairly easy to find but watch out for low-quality models
Just like face masks that are everywhere these days, plastic face shields are also very easy to find.
However, it’s important to make sure that the plastic face shield you’re going to get provides sufficient coverage for the entirety of your face. Try to look for a face shield that is sealed at the top and will reach the sides of your face just up to your ears and that the bottom of the shield should extend below the chin.
Just like face masks, plastic face shields also need a bit of care to ensure maximum effectiveness. If you choose to buy reusable plastic face shields and not disposable plastic face shields, they should be cleaned and disinfected after each use. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing the plastic face shield. Plastic face shield wearers should also wash their hands before and after removing the face shield.
Are these face shields effective?
The National Library of Medicine’s 2014 study on the efficacy of face shields showed that when tested against an influenza-infused aerosol from a distance of 18 inches away, a plastic face shield reduced exposure by 96% during the period immediately after a cough. The plastic face shield also reduced the surface contamination of a respirator by 97%.
Plastic face shields protect the wearer. But if the wearer coughs, those droplets can still get out. It’s still better if you have a face mask on while wearing the plastic face shield because the plastic face shield is away from your face and will have space for the respiratory droplets to get out.
“I’m wearing a face mask and a plastic face shield! Do I still need to get tested if I was exposed to an infected person?”
Despite the efficacy of the face shield with a face mask, you shouldn’t get complacent. You are not 100% safe. It’s still very important to take precautions when in public. If you have been exposed to COVID-19 with someone who is infected while wearing a face mask and a plastic face shield, you should still go get tested with a COVID-19 antigen test or a PCR test near you.
“I don’t know where to get a COVID-19 test near me. Where should I go to get a COVID-19 antigen test near me?”
We recommend using Google’s powerful local search tool to help you. Also, try contacting your local health authorities to find COVID-19 testing locations near you.
Are these face shields good for everyday use?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend wearing plastic face shields as a substitute for face masks. However, some people may choose to use a plastic face shield when they know that they’ll be exposed close to others. In these situations, it’s better to wear a face mask underneath the plastic face shield and maintain proper social distancing when possible. This will help minimize the risk of infection since face shields have openings at the bottom.
The CDC strongly recommends against using plastic face shields for newborns or infants.