We often are asked if face shields are better than face masks in the prevention of Coronavirus spread. Our answer is that both have their advantages and disadvantages.  Face shields are designed to fight against large droplets which don’t travel as far while face masks are best at protection against smaller droplets which can travel further and even float.

Benefits of Face Shields

Face shields are curved pieces of plastic that cover the entire face, from the top of forehead to neck. Advocates suggest that a face shield prevents large Coronavirus droplets from passing through mucus membranes in the eyes, nose, and mouth. Other benefits include:

  • Block 96% of flu virus in large droplets and 68% of small droplets
  • Cover the eyes, nose, and mouth, from the forehead, past the ears, to the neck
  • Impenetrable (plastic covering)
  • Wearers are less prone to touching their faces
  • Covers eyes which are a virus entry point
  • More comfortable than a face mask – easier to breathe, cooler
  • Glasses don’t fog
  • People can see you smile and read your lips
  • Easily cleaned with soap and water
  • Better in a community setting than in a hospital setting


Disadvantages to Wearing Face Shields

  • Do not fit snugly against the face
  • Small virus-laden droplets can bypass the shield through the sides or bottom
  • Air breathed is unfiltered


Benefits of Face Masks

  • Reduce the amount of virus spread into the air by 3x
  • Better at source control where viral spread is stopped when the wearer coughs
  • Better at preventing the transmission of smaller viral droplets that travel farther
  • N95 masks are preferred because they fit snugly against the face but they are in short supply and reserved for health care providers


Disadvantages to Wearing Face Masks

  • Often worn incorrectly exposing the nose
  • Wearers are more prone to touching their faces
  • Cloth and medical masks do not fit snugly against the face
  • Eyes are exposed

Dr. Alan Berger, CEO of BergerHenry ENT Specialty Group, says that “there is no fail-safe piece of PPE equipment that is 100% effective in preventing virus spread. If you are in a service role, as a doctor, waiter, or retailer would be, consider wearing both a mask and shield. Our doctors wear both face masks and shields together. We also wear gloves and sanitize our hands constantly. We sanitize our offices after each patient visit and maintain six-foot distancing with our patients and staff members.”

It’s important to understand that the mouth, nose, and eyes are the entryways for the virus into our bodies. So, while wearing both a face mask and face shield may not win you this year’s fashionista award, together they are the best methods of preventing the spread of Coronavirus. If you don’t have a face shield, wear a mask. If you don’t have a mask, wear a shield. Just wear something! And make sure to sanitize your hands.