Have you seen people walking around with face masks? It must be flu season. Nowadays, masks go beyond the regular surgical masks. They are from different fabrics and turned into fashion accessories. But, how effective are masks for flu prevention?
What the Experts Say
Firstly, the studies show a favorable response to using masks. One study showed that people who wore masks around others with flu-like illnesses were 80% less likely to contract the illness themselves. However, the masks need to be used correctly.
In addition, another study found that washing hands and wearing masks reduced the risk of getting the flu by 70 percent. This study, like the previous, was household-based information. Research done outside household populations were equally promising.
Researchers collected data on a college residence hall. The students divided into groups. One group washed their hands frequently and wore masks. And the other group only wore masks. Finally, the last group did neither one.
Of all the groups studied, the ones that both practiced hand hygiene and wore masks received the most favorable results. Researchers concluded that doing both reduced their risk up to 75 percent.
The Right Fit: Which Mask and How to Wear It
Whether you choose a disposable face mask or a respirator, both have shown to be beneficial. What matters more is that you wear the mask correctly.
The CDC revised their flu-prevention recommendations to include masks a few years ago for healthcare settings. However, the public can also benefit from it too.
Here are some general guidelines to wear the mask correctly:
The mask needs to be firmly in place. Position the strings correctly so that the mouth, nose, and chin are covered. Don’t touch the mask again until it’s time to take it off.
In addition, face masks are one-use only. After using it, wash your hands and dispose of it. There are many cloth-type face masks, but unless you wash them every time, they will get contaminated.
Face masks for flu prevention are very effective. Just remember to use them as much as possible. Especially in crowded areas. Also, washing your hands frequently decreases your chances of contracting the flu.