Face shields have been utilized for a while in healthcare settings for surgical procedures where bodily fluids or blood could enter the eyes, the nose or the mouth. However, it has been popularized and widely available to the public due to the lack of supply of sufficient face masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Some schools are also turning to face shields as an alternative to face masks for children as requiring them to wear face masks all day is impractical.
The Functionality and Effectiveness
Face masks and face shields have different functions. Face shields are meant to cover the face and protect the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth) from droplet contamination. A 2014 study on the Efficacy of Face Shields Against Cough Aerosol Droplets From A Cough Simulator showed that a face shields helps in reducing exposure by 96% immediately after a cough. This was tested against an influenza-infused aerosol with a distance of 18 inches away. The face shield also reduced the surface contamination by 97%. According to the study, “face shields reduced inhaled virus by 92%, similar to distancing alone, which reinforces the importance of physical distancing in preventing viral respiratory infections.”
After wearing a face shield it is very important to sanitize it frequently. To do so, after taking it off, sterilize it with either soap and water or Antiseptic Sanitizing Alcohol Prep Pads. Additionally, discontinue the use of your face shield if it breaks, cracks or sustains any other form of damage.
One thing to keep in mind is that as effective as face shields are, they protect the wearer more than the people in their environment. That means, if the wearer coughs, the droplets still have a chance of getting out because the face shield is away from their face.