“Theoretically you should protect all the mucosal surfaces
(eyes, nose and mouth).”
– Dr. Anthony Fauci1
Protecting the face is critical because the mucous membranes around the transmission zone (T-zone)—which includes the eyes, nose, and mouth—are portals for infection.2 While gloves, masks, shields, gowns and alcohol-based hand sanitizers are necessary components of personal protective equipment (PPE), there still may be gaps that leave the T-zone vulnerable.
Consider the following:
- We touch our faces an average of 23 times an hour.3 Touching contaminated surfaces or patients with gloves, and then touching the T-zone is one way viruses like the cold, flu, and even COVID-19 can be transmitted.4
- In addition to contaminated-surface transmission, COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses may be spread via droplet transmission and potentially even airborne transmission when the T-zone is unprotected.5,6
- According to a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine study, “ocular surface cells including conjunctiva are susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV-2, and could therefore serve as a portal of entry as well as a reservoir for person-to-person transmission of this virus.”7
- Excessive hand washing and use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers not only dry the skin, but they have been shown to break down the skin’s barrier—increasing the risk of infection.8
- Alcohol has limited residual effects, meaning frequent re-applications of alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
- Prolonged wearing of PPE can cause pressure, friction and skin breakdown, possibly making healthcare workers less compliant with wearing their PPE.