Many men are sporting what is being called a “Covid Beard”. This is basically men not shaving while they are at home and not at the office, growing that manly beard.
But while it is a symbol of being quarantined or stuck at home, its actually a bad idea.
That is because a beard significantly reduces the effectiveness of wearing a protective mask.
Whether you are on the front lines in the medical field wearing an N95 mask or doing your part and wearing a home made mask, the “seal” between your mask and your skin is very important.
Beard hair can interfere with a face piece respirator such as an N95 mask, preventing an airtight seal, which is critical for effective protection of medical personnel. But N95 masks should be reserved for hospital workers and first responders because of limited supplies.
What the experts say. “There’s no evidence that having a beard per se makes you more or less vulnerable to the coronavirus,” Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease doctor with Johns Hopkins University, told NPR. But “you need to be really meticulous about the hygiene of your beard.” People with facial hair do touch their faces more, which in turn increases risk of infection.
The obvious problem. Facial hair can block a full seal around the nose and mouth on a sealing protective mask, such as an N95, defeating the purpose of the mask. One recent study found that no healthcare workers with beards achieved a proper fit. Thus, healthcare workers are shaving. (Healthcare facilities typically allow religious exemptions, providing special PAPR masks for those with beards, which have a spacesuit look.) Facial hair can also cause what one study calls “facemask wiggling.”
We take every precaution for your safety!