N95 masks continue to be the gold standard, but if you can't get your hands on them, a pair of surgical masks could better protect you.

N95 masks proceed to be the gold commonplace, however if you cannot get your fingers on them, a pair of surgical masks may higher shield you. (RD Inventory Photographs/Deposit Photograph/)

What’s higher than one mask? The reply is moderately apparent: two.

For the higher a part of the final 12 months, public well being officers have been advising people to wear a mask over their noses and mouths—generally to little avail. Now some medical consultants are floating the choice of adding a second layer to lower the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19. It isn’t vital in all eventualities, they are saying, however it could possibly assist shield the well being of most of the people in higher-risk conditions.

When spending time indoors in public, as an example, adults might need to contemplate doubling up on masks, particularly in the event that they’re at excessive danger of extreme COVID-19. Grocery shops, mass transit hubs, and physician’s workplaces might warrant an additional degree of care, although there are different issues past time and place.

For starters, when doubling up, know that there are specific combos of masks supplies that provide extra important safety when than others. One of the best combo for most of the people is one surgical masks and one material masks, says Monica Gandhi, an infectious illness specialist on the College of California, San Francisco. The fabric masks improves the fit and provides a layer of filtration, and the surgical masks helps block out aerosols and droplets that carry the coronavirus. “The surgical masks actually repels the virus electrostatically,” Gandhi says. “It’s not about thickness or the fibers.”

For those who can’t entry a surgical masks or are leaving them to well being care employees, Gandhi and environmental engineer Linsey Marr present another choice in a recently published piece in Cell. They counsel carrying a material masks with two tightly woven layers and a filter made out of a kind of plastic referred to as polypropylene in between. Polypropylene works equally to surgical masks, and is utilized in many on a regular basis merchandise, together with vacuum baggage.

You additionally don’t must pile up your masks for those who’re simply getting some contemporary air, Gandhi says: Carrying a two-layer material masks or a surgical masks is ample outside where transmission is less likely as a result of it’s simpler for virus particles to disperse on the wind. Double masking additionally isn’t an awesome match for youths. “Youngsters are usually not solely much less susceptible [to virus symptoms], however there’s something about selecting their very own colour and having a enjoyable masks that issues to them,” Gandhi says.

Usually, masks use has made a stark distinction throughout the pandemic. A lot of the proof in help of it comes from reviews of declining circumstances in areas that impose mask mandates. For instance, Kansas counties that started mandating masks when COVID-19 circumstances surged over the summer time noticed a drop in circumstances in comparison with neighboring counties that didn’t. In the meantime, in different elements of the nation, increased charges of mask-wearing tremendously curbed an infection charges in some communities, a new study in The Lancet finds.

Lab research, nonetheless, have confirmed that not all masks are equal. Gandhi and Marr’s masking suggestions stem from experiments that examined the effectiveness of various supplies—each when it comes to what number of particles the wearer exhales by the masks, and how many get through to the wearer. One examine found that surgical masks protect the wearer from influenza virus in droplets and aerosols by a median of 80 %. One other discovered that homemade masks shield the wearer by 50 % in opposition to air air pollution particles.

Even when masks don’t completely block out the virus, they’ll nonetheless forestall an individual from feeling the complete power of COVID-19. The decrease the viral load a person is available in contact with, the much less sick they’re prone to get, Gandhi says. Research have proven this to be true for a lot of viruses in lab animals and for the flu and rhinovirus in people. Coronavirus analysis on hamsters additionally helps that the impact applies to the present pandemic. That is one other essential cause to put on a material masks with a filter or to double up on masks: For those who do get contaminated, you may have a more mild or asymptomatic case of the illness.

The one main draw back to double masking? It makes respiration more durable. However then once more, so does COVID-19. Choose and select your battles.