There have been numerous suggestions throughout the course of the coronavirus pandemic for slowing the spread of COVID-19, from social distancing to wearing safety goggles. And the latest topic to take over the internet is double-masking, or wearing two face masks at once to maximize protection.
Although the practice isn't recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it's become an increasingly common guideline among experts including Anthony Fauci, MD, White House advisor and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases."If you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective," Dr. Fauci told NBC's Today show last week. "That's the reason why you see people either double-masking or doing a version of an N95."
The logic behind multiple masks is that wearing two low-filtration masks, like a cloth or surgical design, can bring you closer to the level of protection provided by high-filtration masks like N95s or Kf94s, the version imported from Korea. While a high-filtration mask is always preferred, double-masking is the next best thing, according to Prabhjot Singh MD, PhD, Chief Medical & Scientific Advisor of CV19 CheckUp.
"The way I explain it to my family is that we wear a coat when it's cold outside, but if it's really cold, you need to wear more layers or buy a better coat," Dr. Singh tells Health. "Bottom line: Wearing a 'hi-fi' mask should be the new normal—and double mask if you're still trying to get your hands on one or until prices go down for everyday use."
Of course, it's important to remember that fit is just as important as filtration. Wearing two masks should never cause gaping along the nose, chin, or cheeks. So even though wearing two surgical masks offers better protection than wearing one, according to Dr. Singh, it often leads to poor fit. As a result, he recommends either wearing two tightly woven cloth masks or, even better, a surgical mask with a cloth one.
The most common method for double-masking is pairing a cloth covering with a disposable face mask. And while many of us have already found the perfect reusable face covering, we're still searching for the best disposable option to layer underneath. Luckily, other shoppers have us covered with their selection of the 9 best disposable face masks to shop online.