Unmasking the Myths Surrounding Use of Barrier Face Coverings During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Document Type : Perspective


1 School of Medicine, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland

2 School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

3 School of Medicine, International Medical University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia



Face masks have been worn by members of the public for source control during pandemics and major outbreaks of infectious disease across the centuries. As the current coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic evolves, reluctance towards the wearing of face masks and anti-mask sentiments by some people have been encountered, with strongly held personal views and misinformation being disseminated through social media. Some of this resistance may arise from personal beliefs about the limited effectiveness of masks. Negative perceptions towards use of face masks have also been voiced by patients with pre-existing medical conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma. There are concerns that face coverings may not be suitable for children or individuals with autism. Health care professionals have an obligation to be advocates for this public health intervention. Individual patients’ concerns about mask use should be sensitively addressed by countering misinformation with reliable evidence from the scientific literature.