What are the benefits of masks beyond protecting against COVID-19?
With the COVID-19 vaccine among us, it's easy to fall into a sense of security. But don't let up just yet! Not only is the vaccine limited, but it also requires two shots that you have to space out 3-4 weeks apart after your first. And even then, it will take time for it to become effective.
According to the CDC, getting the vaccine, social distancing, and wearing masks are the best ways to protect yourself and others. Vaccines help prepare your immune system to fight off the virus when exposed; wearing masks and social distancing helps reduce your risk of exposure or spreading it to others.
Yet, with so much research still ongoing, it's better to be safe than sorry, and our return to "normalcy" might include a future with masks from here onwards (hopefully without all the quarantine and lockdown procedures).
Take East Asian countries, for example, who have been masking up way before the start of COVID-19!
That's why, in our preparedness to continue living in the new normal, we gathered a list of mask-wearing benefits aside from protecting yourself and others against COVID-19.
If you live in areas with toxic air pollution or heavy traffic, then masks can offer you some protection from inhaling these harmful chemicals and gases. Studies have shown that surgical masks and cloth masks do not completely protect you against inhaling these pollutants. However, "Something is better than nothing," says Richard Peltier, an associate professor for Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Massachuttes.
Furthermore, surgical masks tend to be more effective than cloth masks because they are tightly-woven. But what about face masks that are not only tightly-woven but double-layered to offer you twice as much protection?
Have you ever heard the saying, "Treat others the way you want to be treated?" Respect is a two-way street, and East Asians consider it common courtesy to wear masks whenever they feel sick, especially during the flu or winter season. Wearing masks is a practice that not only protects yourself but those around you, including your loved ones.
Tip: they also keep you warm against the chilly and frosty winter air.
Mix it up, and mask up! Anything and everything can be a fashion statement if you put your creative mind to it. Masks come in all sorts of colors and designs, just like our Stryv Medical masks below. Like Emma Teng, Professor of Asian Civilizations at MIT and director of MIT Global Language, says, consider wearing masks as "an outlet for creativity and self-expression," and put a positive and artistic spin to it! Perform the perfect trifecta of looking good, feeling good, and being safe.
As kids, we were all taught to wash our hands after playing outside, going to the bathroom, before and after we eat, etc. Likewise, we were also taught to not touch our faces to avoid spreading germs. But considering the pandemic we are currently living in, you can see how well that turned out. However, to avoid germs from spreading in general (not just COVID-19), experts say that wearing a mask serves as an important reminder not to touch our faces, where these viral transmissions can occur.
Not feeling so hot? Want to run errands but don't want to be seen? No time for make-up? Afraid of premature aging? Whatever the reasons, masks have you covered in giving you a sense of security (both in confidence and health-wise). Similar to headphones, they also act as what people call a "social firewall," to avoid people bothering you when you want to get in and out of the grocery store, or when you're just not up for a friendly social distancing chat.
So, Mask Up!
Focus on the good things, not the bad! Masks can provide us with all sorts of benefits, from keeping your community safe to being a creative touch to your fashion statement! Researchers are doing everything possible to resolve the pandemic problem, and so we should all do our part in getting the vaccine, masking up, and social distancing.