Face masks, neck gaiters, shields: What to wear? | Norton Healthcare Louisville, Ky.

Face masks, neck gaiters, shields: What to wear?

As we’re moving indoors more and considering ways to celebrate the holidays, choosing between neck gaiters, face masks, shields and other face coverings takes on new importance.

As we’re moving indoors more and considering ways to celebrate the holidays, choosing between neck gaiters, face masks, shields and other face coverings takes on new importance.

Neck gaiters

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t recommend neck gaiters as evaluation is ongoing and effectiveness is unknown.

Much of the confusion around gaiters — the tubes of fabric you wear around your neck and you pull up to cover your face and nose — stem from initial reporting that a study concluded they were worse than no covering at all.

That initial research studied a single-layer spandex neck gaiter. Others have since suggested that when a single-layer neck gaiter is doubled up, it could be more effective.

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Plastic face shields

The CDC’s stance on plastic face shields is the same as its stance on gaiters — it doesn’t recommend them as evaluation is ongoing and effectiveness is unknown.

Face shields may have their advantages. They protect your eyes and they allow easier communication with those who need to read lips. They also are more likely to stay in place than a mask, which accidently or intentionally can wind up below your nose and mouth.

How well a shield protects others from respiratory droplets sprayed by the wearer is unknown, according to the CDC. For that reason, the CDC does not recommend substituting a face shield for a mask.

The CDC recognizes, however, that a face shield may be more feasible for some. For those, they suggest using a face shield that wraps around the side of the face and below the chin. Face shield hoods that cover the whole head may also be an option.

Cloth face masks

The CDC recommends cloth face masks in public settings.

What to look for when choosing a face mask:

  • Face masks made at home using washable, breathable fabric may help prevent coronavirus spread.
  • Wear masks with two or more layers.
  • Wear the mask over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.
  • Masks should be worn by people age 2 years and older.
  • Children younger than 2, people who have trouble breathing or people who cannot remove the mask without assistance should not wear one.
  • Do not wear masks such as N95 respirators intended for health care workers.
  • Do not use masks with exhalation valves that allow your own breath to carry virus particles to others.
  • Choose a mask that fits closely over your nose to help limit eyeglass fogging.

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