Facts vs. Fiction: Local doctor provides insight on wearing face masks during pandemic

HealthU on WIS News 10 is sponsored by the Lexington Medical Center.
Updated: Sep. 16, 2020 at 5:25 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Did you ever think so many of us would be wearing masks?

Recent studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a majority of people now are wearing them.

Let’s answer some of your questions about masks -- like will they make your face break out? And will they make you pass out?

You won’t find anyone inside hospitals not donning a mask. Like at Lexington Medical Center where Dr. Khurram Rashid is a hospitalist. The number one reason for wearing a face covering is to serve as a barrier to respiratory droplets that could travel from one person to another -- unless there is plenty of room between the people. Dr. Rashid has a lot of people ask him why wear one if you’re not sick.

“People are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic before they even show symptoms so you’re actually contagious at that point. That could be four or five days before you have respiratory symptoms, diarrhea, cough, headache.”

Some people think wearing a mask can actually make you sick because you’re breathing in your own germs. Dr. Rashid says you’re not going to weaken your immune system.

“Whatever you have inside your body would’ve already made you sick,” Dr. Rashid said. “So you just coughing or expelling it out, you’re not going to reinfect your own self in that manner.”

The physical wearing of a mask can turn awkwardly mental as the human instinct is to not have something covering the face, making us feel claustrophobic.

“What people feel is almost like an anxiety,” said Dr. Rashid. “When you feel like I just can’t breathe, then you should go into a separate place and take off the mask and give yourself a break.”

Dr. Rashid says a mask will not cause your oxygen levels to drop or your CO2 levels to climb. He says you’ll not reinfect yourself or weaken your own immune system.

What may happen, though, is a breakout. Your body produces natural oils and sweat so as the mask holds that intact, the irritated face results in acne. Mask + acne has spawned the term “maskne.”

“Aside from washing your hands, wash your face. Because that will get rid of some of the sweat, some of the stuff that will clog the pores,” said Dr. Rashid.

But it’s a small price to pay for protection.

Masks should NOT be worn by children younger than two, people who have trouble breathing, or people who cannot remove the mask without assistance.

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