A face shield is an item of personal protective equipment that protects the wearer’s entire face from hazards, such as flying objects, road debris, chemical splashes or potentially infectious diseases.
With coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading rapidly worldwide, person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 can occur when microdroplets from a sneeze or cough infiltrate the body through mucous membranes (i.e. wet parts of the face, such as the mouth, eyes and nose). Face shields offer effective defence against stray droplets and could play an important role in flattening the Coronavirus curve.
Whether used as an alternative to face masks, which are currently in short supply, or as a complementary measure, plastic face shields are making waves in the medical sphere. At a time when personal protective equipment (PPE) is in short supply, face shields are stepping up to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Face shields offer you the following benefits over a face mask:
- They cover your eyes in addition to your mouth and nose. They also stop respiratory droplets landing on your face, which can then be smeared into contact with a mucous membrane.
- Shields are usually more comfortable to wear than masks and they form a barrier that stops people from easily touching their own faces.
- They offer the potential for decontamination and reuse. They simply require cleaning with soap and water or common disinfectants.
- They have less chance of prompting the occupational hazards of the long-term wearing of face masks.
- It’s easier to communicate through them, because people can see your whole face for expressions and lip reading.
- Supply chains are likely to be more robust for face shields than masks.
And what about the ability of a face shield to prevent Coronavirus transmission?
According to an Iowa medical team, large-scale studies haven’t yet been conducted. However, “in a simulation study, face shields were shown to reduce immediate viral exposure by 96% when worn by a simulated health care worker within 18 inches of a cough.”
“When the study was repeated at the currently recommended physical distancing distance of 6 feet, face shields reduced inhaled virus by 92%,” the authors said.