Do you think those white face masks that are so popular in Japan are effective in combating allergies or the flu?

  • 7

    Moonraker

    No, but they are an effective way to display "suffering" and that is their primary purpose.

  • 3

    LiveInTokyo

    I think they might serve a purpose with hay fever, but that is it. However, in that case you'd have to wear glasses or maybe goggles to protect the eyes.

    Many years ago a nurse friend told me that once a mask gets wet (from the moisture in your breath), it becomes useless against colds and influenza. And I think they might even spread illnesses. After wearing the mask for an hour or two they must be covered with germs and bacteria ready to be passed to the next person. No wonder when it's cold and flu season in Japan, it lasts forever.

  • 1

    ChibaChick

    Clearly not as every year hordes of people get sick.

  • 2

    Betraythetrust!

    They annoy me and i think they are a waste of time. In summer i get hay fever and i may sneeze sometimes and maybe blow my nose. I have had a number of times well meaning people offer me a mask or ask my wife if i am unwell. Sometimes it seems like there is a kind of mask fetish.

  • 2

    zenkan

    The other day, a young women freely admitted to us that she was wearing a mask because she didn't have any make-up on... Students have told me that they wear masks for prevention rather than when they have a cold. It is definitely etiquette, despite advertising claims. No different to covering your mouth with your hand.

  • 2

    AKBfan

    Maybe for hay fever. Doubt it for colds and flu. agree, they are a way to show suffering and that wearer is perservering despite the pain. And in some cases a form of hiding (no makep, bad teeth etc)

  • 2

    kaminarioyaji

    I'm always amazed that a student will walk in with a mask on, say they have a cold, then take the mask off when they come into the confined space which is my classroom. Yeah, thanks for that.

    Zenkan - Interesting point. Most Japanese DON'T cover their mouths when they cough; is it because of them being used to having a mask over their mouths instead I wonder...

  • 3

    Xeno23

    They have some small merit in reducing airborne contagion transmission, like sneezes, which are astoundingly powerful vectors, and coughing, but as I understand it, the primary vector for colds and flu is your hands - so, that's no help. And if you've got some absorbent thing in front of your mouth and noise, and you're inhaling through it all day, and it's moist - uh, that doesn't sound like a real good idea...

  • 2

    GW

    No real use other than perhaps to keep people on crowded trains from sprying their germs because they were never taught to put the hand over their mouth when they cough LOL!

  • 1

    combinibento

    Even less effective than gargling.

  • -3

    Tessa

    I love masks, they keep my face nice and warm in the cold weather. I always wear one on the walk to the station.

  • 0

    BertieWooster

    They are probably effective for the larger bacteria that are too big to get through the cotton mesh :)

  • -1

    Thunderbird2

    I was out with a lady friend in November and she had a cold, so she put a mask on. So some people obvioulsy think they do some good.

  • 1

    cwhite

    it has many uses:

    1) to keep airborne particles out (dust, sand and crap) 2) keeps moisture in which virus hate and good for your throat in the dry winter 3) keeps your face warm and skin moist

    Using a N95 or higher and warn properly (I prefer at least a 5 layered N95+ activated charcoal filter), replace each time used:

    4) keeps bacteria and virus out 5) keeps bacteria and virus in 6) keeps air pollution out especially from China 7) keeps radiated particles out 8) keeps the smell of smog out

    And as a bonus:

    9) Hides your spots and pimples 10) no need for make-up to the convenience store 11) who cares about nose hairs 12) bad breath... so what 13) missing a few teeth, no problem

  • -1

    Farmboy

    Yes, the proper mask helps. Viruses and bacteria travel with moisture when people cough, sneeze, etc. so the flu masks cut down on that travel, even though they don't prevent individual strands from getting through. For allergies, they do prevent some of the irritant from getting through. Plus, if you wan't to rob a bank or dress up like the Lone Ranger, masks help you get in the mood.

  • 0

    semperfi

    Farmboy; Yes, the proper mask helps

    EXACTLY !......................Why do you think surgeons, doctors, dentists wear them ?!? .............Of course, cheap ones only really help keep the air your breath moister, so that helps in that bacteria is less likely to attache to the mucuous membrane.

  • 1

    Himajin

    The masks that filter out small particles are a godsend in kousa season. My nose bleeds in kousa season if I spend a lot of time out (walking the dog etc) without one. I assume it's the pollutants in the dust.

  • 2

    paulinusa

    The majority of viruses are spread by touch. I've seen salarymen on trains pull down the mask and put their hands to their nose. Unless someone can consciously avoid touching the nose, mouth or eyes, masks have only minimum effect.

  • 0

    Elvensilvan

    Nopes, but it does warn me who I have to avoid

  • 0

    JeffLee

    Why do you think surgeons, doctors, dentists wear them

    Because they are professionals working in controlled medical environments, and not commuting on a crowded train, etc.

    There is evidence of some protection, but more effective public-health measures are available, like frequent hand-washing and granting extended sick-day periods to infected workers. Japanese people can't deal with the last idea, on several levels, so they settle for the inferior and masochistic solution of mask-wearing.

  • -1

    semperfi

    JeffLee- My dear chap, not only "professionals" in medical care wear them, - - increasingly, you can see FIRST RESPONDERS in an emergency wearing them . . . .............as HAMIJIN correctly pointed out, the masks screen out particles - - - ----------The the higher the grade of mask, the more refined the screening effect ...........{ :-) .....................Try wearing one ..........IT works !..........................

  • 1

    Fadamor

    Unless the mask forms an airtight seal around the nose and mouth, it's next to useless for PREVENTING a cold. However, the mask does reduce the spread of YOUR cold to others. Coughing or sneezing is caught by the mask, not your friends or co-workers.

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