Your face mask is working double duty to protect everyone: It keeps you from spreading your germs and can stop other germs from getting into you. However, if used thoughtlessly, the masks can also cause unwanted side effects. Here’s what they are—and how to prevent them.
1. They Can Mess With Your Sight.
“Wearing a face mask makes the exhaled air go into the eyes,” wrote Antonio I. Lazzarino, Medical Doctor and Epidemiologist, of the University College London, in a letter to the journal BMJ about the side effects of face masks. “This generates an uncomfortable feeling and an impulse to touch your eyes. If your hands are contaminated, you are infecting yourself.” Resist the temptation to touch your face, and wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds after contact with substances like door handles, elevator buttons, packages or anything else where germs thrive.
2. They Can Restrict Your Airflow.
“Face masks make breathing more difficult,” points out Lazzarino in his letter. “For people with COPD”—that’s chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which causes a decreased air flow—”face masks are in fact intolerable to wear as they worsen their breathlessness. Moreover, a fraction of carbon dioxide previously exhaled is inhaled at each respiratory cycle. Those two phenomena increase breathing frequency and deepness, and hence they increase the amount of inhaled and exhaled air.” “This may worsen the burden of COVID-19 if infected people wearing masks spread more contaminated air,” he continues. “This may also worsen the clinical condition of infected people if the enhanced breathing pushes the viral load down into their lungs.”
3. They Can Force You To Inadvertently Draw Closer During Conversations.
“The quality and the volume of speech between two people wearing masks is considerably compromised and they may unconsciously come closer,” wrote Lazzarino. Be sure to stay six feet away from someone when talking to them. Think of the length of a twin bed, to give you a sense of the distance.
4. They Can Foster A False Sense Of Security.
Don’t think of your face mask as Batman’s cowl—some kind of bulletproof covering that will protect you from the coronavirus. “(Masks should be worn) in addition to the evidence-based, strong recommendations that are already in place around physical distancing, frequent handwashing, and frequent disinfecting of commonly touched surfaces,” Dr. Marcia Anderson, medical officer of health at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, tells Global News.
5. They Can Spread Disease If Not Washed.
Walking around with a dirty face mask isn’t doing you or anyone else any favors. They are meant to stop the spread of germs, not spread germs themselves. They should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use. A washing machine should suffice in properly washing a face covering. Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth when removing their face covering and wash hands immediately after removing.
6. They Can Cause Skin Irritation.
“If you have dry skin, it’s best to put on moisturizer before wearing a mask,” reports CNet. “This can help prevent skin irritation from where the mask rubs your face.” “If you have sensitive skin, you may want to forgo the makeup under your mask altogether and to cleanse your face before and after wearing a mask,” reports Cnet. “Not to mention, the foundation can also rub off on your mask, leading to decreased air filtration, making it harder to breathe.”