Along with other protective measures, such as social or physical distancing and proper hand hygiene, face masks may be an easy, inexpensive, and potentially effective way to stay safe and flatten the COVID-19 curve.. Health agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), now encourage all people to wear masksTrusted Source or face coverings when out in public.. So, which type of face mask works best for avoiding transmission of the new coronavirus when you’re out in public? Continue reading to learn more about the different types of masks and which one you should wear.. Why do face masks matter with this coronavirus?. Emerging research suggests that widespread mask use may help limit the transmission of the virus by people who don’t realize that they may have it.. What types of face masks work best?. Frontline healthcare and other workers who need to use these masks as part of their job are tested at least once a year to verify proper respirator size and fit. Unlike respirators, surgical face masks don’t have to meet NIOSH filtration standards. How well surgical masks filter pathogens varies widely, with reports ranging from 10 to 90 percent.. Despite differences in fit and filtration capacity, a randomized trial found that surgical face masks and N95 respirators reduced participant risk of various respiratory illnesses in similar ways.. Adherence — or proper and consistent use — played a more pivotal role than the type of medical-grade mask or respirator worn by study participants. Do-it-yourself (DIY) cloth masks are less effective at protecting the wearer because most have gaps near the nose, cheeks, and jaw where tiny droplets can be inhaled. Although cloth masks tend to be less effective than their medical-grade counterparts, experimental results suggest they are far better than no mask at all when worn and constructed properly.. Thicker, high-grade cotton masks are usually better at filtering small particles. Built-in filters can boost the effectiveness of DIY face masks. The CDC recommends wearing cloth face masks in public settings where compliance with physical distancing measures may be difficult to achieve and maintain. Surgical masks and respirators are in high demand and supplies are limited. However, the CDC recommends that just about everyone wear a cloth face mask.. People who can’t remove the mask on their own or have breathing issues shouldn’t wear masks. If you aren’t sure if a face mask is safe for you to wear, be sure to talk to your doctor. They can advise you on what type of face covering may be best for you if you need to be out in public.. Face mask safety tips. Use proper hand hygiene each time you put on, remove, or touch the surface of your face mask.. Make sure the face mask fits snugly and the straps fit securely over your ears or behind your head.. You can also place the face mask in a paper bag and store it in a warm, dry place for 2 or more days before wearing it again.. In addition to physical distancing and using proper hand hygiene, many health experts consider the use of face masks to be a key measure in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19.. Although homemade cloth masks aren’t as effective at filtering out small particles as respirators or surgical masks, they offer more protection than not wearing any face mask at all.. The effectiveness of homemade face masks can be enhanced with proper construction, wear, and maintenance.. As people return to work, continued use of appropriate face masks might help mitigate an increase in virus transmission.