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Beards and masks

Sir, there may be some colleagues who may be slightly more worried than others about PPE in the era of COVID-19: those of us with facial hair for religious/cultural reasons.

Fit testing of FFP3/FFP2 masks with facial hair has been largely unsuccessful with colleagues failing fit testing. Where facial hair was maintained for reasons other than religious or cultural it was advised that removal would help with the seal of the FFP3/FFP2 masks. Whilst some of our medical colleagues have suggested ways in which an adequate seal can be achieved by using a thin cloth tied over a beard for example, currently the efficacy of this method has not been proven widely. Increasingly, it seems that one of the plausible ways to achieve satisfactory protection is to use a respirator hood device, however, with the proviso that not only do respirator hoods make the use of loupes/powered light source challenging, but given the weight of the attached power pack, it can lead to postural discomfort as well as an inability to sit on stools with a back rest.

As the profession begins its preparations to re-open practices, it certainly will be interesting to see how we overcome this and many other unique hurdles.

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Matharu, K. Beards and masks. Br Dent J 228, 814 (2020).

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