Does having a beard increase your risk for catching COVID-19?
Wearing a face mask reduces your chance of being infected with the virus and making sure the mask fits snug around the nose, mouth, and chin is vital, and health experts tell CNN a beard's size, length, and thickness can impact how well the mask fits.
Dr. Mona Gohara says, "[Any opening] increases the chance that there is a virus that will get to the orifices, which can then obviously give you the disease." Adding, "If your mask isn't fitting properly, then you are increasing your risk."
She tells CNN the best defense is when your face mask and skin meet, explaining, "For a mask to have any chance of fitting properly, it needs to be a mask to skin, not mask to hair."
If you are unwilling or cannot part with your beard, there are still steps to be taken to decrease your risk of infection. Health experts tell CNN:
- Trim the beard down to allow more coverage from the mask
- Use an extra-large mask that covers more of the face and chin area
- Medical workers can use a controlled air-purifying respirator or a powered air-purifying respirator, which is designed to work with facial hair
- Double mask, first using an N95 mask or mask with ties, and then wear another mask that fits snugly around the jaw and neck area.
If you are double masking, get The Doctors' list of best masks for double masking.