Face masks are a form of personal protective equipment synonymous with healthcare. From the operating room to patient examinations, they are a tool for creating an aseptic, sterile environment. Recently, more and more individuals have taken to wearing them outside of the hospital environment. However, the mask itself carries stigma. Many associate it with disease, even when it is worn for prevention. The question is: do masks actually prevent infection?


1. How Infections Spread

Respiratory infections are spread through bodily fluid droplets that carry the virus. These droplets scatter in the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, or exhales. If you breathe in contaminated air, you can inhale these droplets through your mouth or nose. Viral droplets that fall onto a surface can also transmit the virus when a person touches the contaminated surface and then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes. For this reason, the CDC primarily recommends regular hand washing to prevent the spread of infection.

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