HEALTH

UPDATED: Wearing a mask incorrectly while healthy might actually make you sick

Feb 27, 2020, 10:30 AM | Updated: Jun 25, 2020, 4:56 pm

Wearing a mask...

Intermountain Healthcare, University of Utah Health and Latter-day Charities are rolling out a massive grassroots effort to ensure that caregivers who are treating COVID-19 patients have the protection they need to be safe. (Image credit: mihalec / Getty Images)

(Image credit: mihalec / Getty Images)

Update: The CDC now recommends that wearing a mask or cloth face covering should be worn in public settings as part of a strategy to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

This recommendation comes as recent studies of the virus show that individuals who are infected but not outwardly showing signs of sickness can transmit the virus to others.

“This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.  In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”

Face coverings should not be the only step to prevent transmission of the virus, though, according to the World Health Organization.

“The use of a mask alone is insufficient to provide an adequate level of protection, and other measures should also be adopted.”

Those other measures, the WHO says, are things like frequent hand washing, social distancing and avoiding touching the face.

The WHO still stands by its original recommendations that there is no evidence that wearing a mask by a healthy person in a community setting is beneficial.

The original version of this story is below.


Wearing a mask incorrectly while healthy might actually make you sick

SALT LAKE CITY (Feb 27, 2020)– Health officials say you shouldn’t be wearing protective face masks as a preventative measure against getting sick. In fact, they say wearing a mask might make you more likely to catch something.

Fears over the spreading coronavirus have led to a massive shortage of protective face masks across the world with many hoping they can prevent the sickness by wearing a mask.

Celebrities like Kate Hudson and Gweneth Paltrow have even been sharing photos of themselves masked up while traveling internationally.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Hudson recently both shared selfies of the masks they are wearing as fears over the coronavirus have spread. (PHOTOS: Instagram)

But not all masks are created equal.

On their web page, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it doesn’t “recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19.” The agency recommends instead that the protective masks be used by those who are showing symptoms.

Wearing a face mask – Two types

Surgical masks

The mask most commonly seen in areas affected by the spread of COVID-19 is the surgical mask. Health officials say this mask is designed to prevent the spread of germs by catching particles expelled by sneezing or coughing. It is not designed to prevent healthy people from getting sick.

coronavirus death

FILE — Travelers wear face masks as they walk outside the Beijing Railway Station in Beijing, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. France reported the first coronavirus death in Europe after a Chinese tourist died after being initially turned away from two French hospitals. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

N95 Respirator

According to the Food and Drug Administration, the N95 respirator is an example of personal protective equipment used to keep liquid and airborne particles from contaminating the wearer’s face.

“If worn properly, a facemask is meant to help block large-particle droplets, splashes, sprays or splatter that may contain germs (viruses and bacteria), keeping it from reaching your mouth and nose.”

face mask

Close up of protection respirator for N95 Filter face mask in hand

Wearing a face mask incorrectly might put you at greater risk of getting sick

However, the FDA says that both of these masks are just one part of an infection-control strategy.

“While a facemask may be effective in blocking splashes and large-particle droplets,” the agency says, “a facemask by design does not filter or block very small particles in the air that may be transmitted by coughs, sneezes or certain medical procedures.”

“Facemasks also do not provide complete protection from germs and other contaminants because of the loose fit between the surface of the facemask and your face.”

Surgical and N95 respirator masks are only recommended for those who work with infected people for extended periods of time. In other words, people like healthcare workers.

Dr. David Eisenman a professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at UCLA told ABC News the vast majority of masks being worn won’t do very much to help healthy people.

“I think people see a mask and they see an illusion of protection. [People think] that if they put the mask on it will somehow block the viruses from getting into their mouth or noses when they breathe, Eisenman said.

“That’s just not the case. Anyone who does not have a respiratory illness, meaning a cough or sneezing, should not be wearing any type of mask, whether a surgical mask or a respirator.”

That sentiment is shared by the New York Commissioner of Health.  Dr. Howard Zucker urges the public not to buy masks. He says they should be just used by healthcare workers.

Why some masks are dangerous

Improper use is one of the major concerns surrounding a healthy person using a face mask.

“People do not use their masks correctly. They play with it, they wear it too long, they rub their nose underneath it,” Eisenman says.

Even facial hair can prevent a mask from being effective.

A graphic created by the CDC that shows some of the appropriate and innapropriate facial hair styles that could prevent protective equipment from working. (CREDIT CDC)

 

The WHO says that another issue is improperly removing a mask. The WHO says that in order to remove a mask, the front of the mask should never be touched.

“Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water…To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of the mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.”

Additional face mask resources


FDA: Masks AND N95 Respirators

CDC: To Beard or not to Beard

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Health

(Canva)...

Michelle Lee

Find greater happiness through joy-filled connections

Let’s Get Moving Host Maria Shilaos spoke with Clinical Psychologist Dr. Carla Manly to learn how we can boost happiness through connections.

20 hours ago

The Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah.A Utah cancer researcher says more study is n...

Don Brinkerhoff and Simone Seikaly

Utah cancer researcher says new accelerated aging study needs more examination

A new study says accelerated aging may be linked to early-onset cancer, but a Utah cancer researcher says more investigation is needed.

2 days ago

It's Child Abuse Prevention Month, and Intermountain wants parents to know how to deal with the str...

Devin Oldroyd

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month; Parents should know how to handle baby stress

It's Child Abuse Prevention Month, and Intermountain wants parents to know how to deal with the stress of a new baby

2 days ago

A team at the University of Utah has received funding to research if ultrasound technology can help...

Britt Johnson

University of Utah using funding for ultrasound research to treat addiction

Could an ultrasound help cure addiction? A team of researchers at the University of Utah thinks so.

2 days ago

Pickleball has exploded in popularity in Utah and across the nation. Perhaps not surprisingly, so h...

Amanda Dickson

Dickson: Preventing pickleball injuries

SALT LAKE CITY — My Dad played pickleball until he was 90 years old. He was a stud. And there are several seriously competitive pickleball players in the KSL newsroom. I won’t name names (Matt Johnson). “Pickleball is exploding in the U.S. with the number of players increasing from 4.8 million in 2021 to 8.9 […]

4 days ago

Melatonin is a hormonal sleep aid. According to the Mayo Clinic, melatonin is produced and released...

Alexandrea Bonilla

Melatonin companies given two years to childproof their product, after melatonin related ER visits increase

The CDC said more than 11,000 children went to the ER in the last two years after ingesting melatonin.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

UPDATED: Wearing a mask incorrectly while healthy might actually make you sick