Health experts have gone back and forth on the merits of wearing face masks. Here are just a few advantages.

While medical-grade N95 masks are in short supply for medical workers, health officials are not ready to recommend the widespread use of face masks for the general public. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still assert that hand hygiene is the best way to avoid getting infected. That said, many people are making their own or using disposable masks like those found at beauty supply stores.

News outlets have been debating the use of non-medical face masks, and even the Surgeon General has weighed in.

There are plenty of tutorials online for sewing your own.

So what works best—to wear a mask or not wear a mask? 

masks, face masks

Here are some of the advantages for wearing a fabric face mask, in case you're considering it for yourself.

1. They keep you from touching your mouth and nose.

We have all heard how easy it is to transmit the virus from surfaces we touch to our own mouth or nose. Having a fabric barrier makes that very difficult to do once you get used to washing your hands before removing your mask.

2. They protect others from your cough.

Asymptomatic transmission of the virus happens when someone coughs or sneezes, spreading particulates through their saliva. You may think you're fine if you're not displaying any other symptoms, but a mask will keep your coughs contained. This is handy during allergy season!

3. They offer some security from others.

While the holes in fabric are large enough for the virus to pass through them, some barrier to coughs and droplets is better than none. If you can, fashion a mask with openings on the side so you can insert an additional filter layer. 

man in mask

If you want to give it a go, here are some simple tutorials for creating your own fabric face mask. This one is a basic, pleated mask. This pattern is slightly more complicated but provides a more tailored fit and a pocket for adding a filter. If you want to see what else is out there, just browse through Twitter or YouTube for more styles.

If you do decide to use disposable or fabric face masks, be sure to remove them properly to avoid contamination. Here are the guidelines from the World Health Organization on the proper use of face masks.

*The photos in this article are courtesy of Unsplash.

What do you think about wearing paper or fabric face masks when you go out? Have you tried it yet? Let us know in the comments!