Coronavirus and face masks

We’ve received lots of questions about whether people with cystic fibrosis (CF) and their families should be wearing masks if and when they leave the house. 

Last updated: 26 August 2021

What are the different kinds of face masks?

You will have heard that some masks could offer more protection than others. Types of masks include:

  • Surgical masks – these are disposable masks that cover your nose and mouth, but do not have a seal.
  • Medical masks – these masks are made to seal around your nose and mouth and must meet specific quality standards (FFP2/FFP3 in Europe/N95 in the US).
  • Homemade/cloth masks – simple fabric masks to cover your nose and mouth. These can be made at home from breathable fabrics. 

There is information on types of masks, how effective they might be, and the evidence behind them here.  

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has produced useful information about types of face masks.  

Do face coverings stop you catching COVID-19?

Cloth and surgical masks have not been shown to stop people from catching COVID-19 but may help to protect others if the person wearing the face covering has COVID-19.

Evidence suggests that N95 masks and FFP2 or FFP3 masks do offer some protection, but only when fitted correctly, used properly and used with additional protective equipment. 

Does wearing glasses/sunglasses as well as a mask reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19?

Frontline medical workers treating those with COVID-19 are routinely wearing goggles but these are carefully fitted and are part of full PPE. 

Evidence suggests that COVID-19 can enter the body through the eyes but a recent review of research suggested that wearing normal spectacle glasses doesn’t offer any additional protection against catching the virus.

Now that shielding is over, should I wear a face covering when I go out?
 

You will need to check the government guidance for wherever you live in the UK so that you know where and when you must wear a face covering. Where face coverings are not a requirement, it is a case of personal choice. Across the UK governments continue to suggest wearing a face covering when in busy places where it is difficult to maintain social distancing. 

If you do decide not to wear a mask, then try to ensure you are socially distancing and maintaining good hand hygiene. If you are concerned about being questioned why you aren’t wearing a mask in particular places, we’ve created a graphic you can print out or carry on your phone. Download the graphic (524 KB).

If you need personalised advice about whether you or your child should use a face covering, please do discuss with your CF team.

 

Should people who live with someone with CF be wearing a face covering when they go out in busier places, to protect the person with CF?

This is a personal choice, but across the UK governments continue to suggest wearing a face covering when in busy places where it is difficult to maintain social distancing, to protect others. 

Simple cloth face coverings will not protect you from catching COVID-19 and medical masks (FFP2 and FFP3) are only likely to offer some protection if properly fitted. Even if you decide to wear a mask, it’s really important to try to follow guidance on social distancing and good hygiene.

If you are concerned about being questioned why you aren’t wearing a mask, we’ve created a graphic you can print out or carry on your phone. Download the graphic (524 KB).

Have people with lung conditions been advised not to use face coverings?

Wearing a face covering may not be easy for people with lung conditions – some people say it can feel harder to breathe while wearing one. If you do want to wear a face covering and have any concerns or find that doing so affects your breathing, do discuss this with your CF team so that they can give advice specific to your lung health. 

If you are specifically thinking about purchasing a medical mask, please speak to your CF team to check they feel this is right for you, before making a purchase. It’s particularly important to speak to your team if you are thinking of using a mask when exercising, in case there are any additional risks when breathing harder due to strenuous exercise.

It’s important to remember that face coverings should be kept clean and hygienic – most simple cloth face coverings can go in the washing machine.

Where can I buy face coverings?

The Government has provided instructions on how to make your own cloth face covering

There are also lots of patterns and tutorials online, which are designed to help people make their own face coverings at home.

The Trust has produced branded face coverings that you can order by making a donation. Find out more

If you experience any symptoms of COVID-19, please contact your CF team and follow Government advice.

Coronavirus updates and FAQs

Important information for people affected by cystic fibrosis about coronavirus (COVID-19), and the latest guidance on how to stay safe.

Financial support and welfare advice

Resources and information from the Trust, as well as useful external websites and services, that can provide financial and welfare support to families living with cystic fibrosis during this time.

Mental and physical health

Helpful advice on how you can maintain your emotional and physical wellbeing through a range of activities.

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