Face Masks vs Face Shields ⎯ Understanding the Difference
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Face Masks vs Face Shields ⎯ Understanding the Difference

understanding the difference between face masks and face shields

In today’s society, more and more people are opting to wear face masks and/or face shields in order to prevent the spread of bacteria and illness, especially in the wake of the recent Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic. It should be noted that face masks and face shields serve different purposes and work to protect the individual in different ways. Dive in as we will be exploring the likenesses and differences between face masks and face shields in order to better understand just how they work, and which option would be the most suitable for your personal needs.

Let’s first start by analyzing the different face mask options that are available for personal use.

Cloth Masks

First is a cloth mask that is more readily available for people and is also reusable. Cloth masks can also easily and cheaply be made with the assistance of simple online instructions. Cloth masks are also highly advised to be worn when you head out and about in public and need to practice social distancing in order to help reduce transmission. It should be noted, however, that face masks should not be considered a replacement for social distancing and hand washing.

cloth face masks are easy, cheap to make and are reusable

Surgical Masks

Next is a surgical mask. Surgical masks are disposable masks that fit a bit loosely but protect your nose and your mouth from splashes, sprays, and other sorts of “droplets” that may spread viruses and bacteria, while also helping to filter out larger air particles and contaminants as well. They also protect those around you from any form of respiratory or saliva secretions that you may emit as well. While the FDA hasn’t necessarily approved surgical masks for protection against COVID-19, they may still provide much-needed protection if an N95 mask is not readily available.

surgical masks are disposable and should be worn if an N95 mask is not available

N95 Masks

An N95 mask isn’t actually considered a mask, but a respirator, and that is why it offers so much more protection than the surgical mask. An N95 respirator filters out small and large particles and has the capability to block out at least 95% of even the tiniest particles. While N95 respirators are designed to be simply thrown out after use, researchers are starting to test different ways that the masks can be disinfected and reused.

N95 respirator masks filters 95% of small and large particles

Face Shields

Face shields are facial devices that are most commonly utilized by individuals who work in various fields for the protection of their entire face from bodily fluids like sprays and splashes.

Face shields are commonly categorized as what is referred to as “adjunctive personal protective equipment (PPE)” because they typically are not worn alone, but other PPE equipment, like surgical masks. Face shields are less commonly used among the “general public”, but many epidemiologists are beginning to state that they are very helpful in preventing the spread of viruses and bacteria.

red cape essentials face shield specifications

Face Masks or Face Shields?

To sum it up, face shields are most certainly the better option when it comes to ensuring the utmost protection and fighting against the spread of viruses and bacteria. However, it should be noted that they only work to their fullest advantage when worn with other PPE equipment, such as surgical face masks. Users may look to increase their odds of total protection with two forms of protection.

Regardless of the type of face cover, you opt to use or are required to wear for work, it is more important now more than ever to keep your nose and mouth covered to protect yourself and others against the spread of disease. The longer we continue to protect ourselves and those around us, the more compelled others will feel to do the same.

face shields offer more protection to fight against the spread of viruses and bacteria