A surgical mask might provide some protection, but it’s going to be very modest,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.
No definitive studies exist that prove masks prevent infections. Also, masks are designed for different purposes, and only some guard against infectious diseases.
Picking the right type of mask may be key, said one researcher.
“Several studies, including research from my group, show that if worn properly, masks can protect people in the community from respiratory illness, especially [those] in close contact with sick people,” said Dr. Raina. She’s head of bio security research at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.
Raina’s group did a study where parents of a sick child wore a mask at home. Those who wore the mask at all times were protected, she said.
So a mask will not help you to protect from infection but it will keep you away from anxiety and decrease you fear of unknown risks.