Okay, I’ll admit it. When you first see this mask-wearing move, it can look a bit absurd. You might even already know what I’m talking about.
Some people are starting to not just wear one mask… but two. And you can often see that second mask peeking out from under the first.
What’s going on? Are these folks just putting on a show or what?
Well, it turns out they’re not. In fact, there’s a good reason some people are switching to the double-mask.
And when you discover why, you might find yourself doubling up, too… no matter how silly you thought it looked at first.
The best way to block sickening bugs
The “gold standard” for protection against the coronavirus (and other bugs) is the N95 mask used by healthcare workers. They’re made up of multiple layers of synthetic material that capture 95 percent of teeny tiny 0.3-micron particles.
The coronavirus itself is actually around 0.1 micron in size. But it doesn’t typically travel alone. It’s usually attached to something larger like saliva droplets, which are far too big to pass easily through the mask.
In other words, the N95 masks are VERY effective at protecting us from getting COVID-19. But, the problem is they’re still in very short supply. Hospitals are having trouble keeping them on hand, and it’s close to impossible for the rest of us to get them.
The year-long shortage of these masks has led to an overnight industry in cloth masks. And that includes all the creative versions people are making at home and unique Etsy coverings.
They’re cute. They DO help protect you. And depending on the number of layers, type of fabric, and whether it has a filter some can offer even more protection than others.
But they’re also nowhere near as effective as the N95 mask. And that’s led to the double-mask movement you’re starting to see. Because it’s not just for show. Studies find double masking is more effective, too.
Why 2 masks could be better than 1
Here’s how it works. When you wear a mask, even a less effective one, the virus must pass through the layers of cloth in your mask. With every layer, there’s another chance of the bug getting trapped.
Some will make it through to the other side, for sure. But not nearly as many as when you aren’t wearing a mask.
And if fewer break through, your immune system might be able to fight them off. Or if you still get sick, you could have a much milder infection thanks to what the experts call a smaller “viral load.”
Now picture doubling up on masks. There are even more layers the virus has to break through before it can reach you. You’ve doubled the number of places it can get caught and trapped. So it cuts down that viral load even further.
You might want to give double making a try yourself, at the very least for riskier outings where you can’t avoid other people. It’s not a guarantee you will be able to avoid getting sick, of course. But it could reduce your risk a bit more.
You can use two cloth masks you already have. Or you can buy a box of the standard blue surgical masks, which are easy to get again. You then wear that as your first layer, with your fabric mask on top of it.
There’s also another option for an extra single or double layer. KN95 and KF94 masks can be nearly as effective as the N95 masks but are much easier to get. They’re designed to be comfortable to wear for long periods and easy to breathe in.
But don’t forget these are DISPOSABLE masks. They will not be effective if you reuse them. And avoid adjusting your masks once you have them in place and fitted properly.
Also, be sure to pay attention to who you buy them from. Some unscrupulous folks on Amazon and eBay are selling stuff not much better than a piece of paper with a strap attached to it.
So read the full description and check the seller and their reviews before you buy.