The widespread use of face masks during COVID-19 pandemics: a literature review




COVID-19; Facial masks; Infection control.


With the COVID-19 pandemic, preventive measures of contagion were included, bringing about several radical changes in the daily lives of the population. This study aimed to present what is known about the widespread use of face masks during the pandemic as a preventive method for COVID-19. A review of the scientific literature was carried out, discussing controversies about the use of facial masks, seeking to elucidate about its efficiency and why it should continue to be used. It is evident that at the beginning of the pandemic, the population had an increased sense of fear, which resulted in greater collaboration with preventive measures, such as the use of masks, hand hygiene, social distance, among others; the collaboration and popular belief with these measures was shown to be related to that disseminated by government officials and other entities of popular impact, such as the media. It is believed that the use of facial masks is capable of reducing the transmission of COVID-19, even though it is not a totally effective method, since it depends directly on the high popular adhesion, on the confection material and on the practice of other preventive attitudes for achieve its greatest effectiveness.


Al-Hasan, A., Yim, D., & Khuntia, J. (2020). Citizens’ adherence to COVID-19 mitigation recommendations by the government: A 3-country comparative evaluation using web-based cross-sectional survey data. J Med Internet Res, 22(8), e20634

Albano, L., Matuozzo, A., Marinelli, P., & Di Giuseppe, G. (2014). Knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of hospital health-care workers regarding influenza A/H1N1: a cross sectional survey. BMC Infect Dis, 14, 208. doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-208

Aranaz Andrés, J. M., Gea Velázquez de Castro, M. T., Vicente-Guijarro, J., Beltrán Peribáñez, J., García Haro, M., Valencia-Martín, J. L., & Bischofberger Valdés, C. (2020). [Masks as personal protective equipment in the COVID-19 pandemic: How, when and which should be used]. J Healthc Qual Res, 35(4), 245-252. doi:10.1016/j.jhqr.2020.06.001

Beesoon, S., Behary, N., & Perwuelz, A. (2020). Universal masking during COVID-19 pandemic: Can textile engineering help public health? Narrative review of the evidence. Prev Med, 139, 106236. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2020.106236

Betsch, C., Korn, L., Sprengholz, P., Felgendreff, L., Eitze, S., Schmid, P., & Böhm, R. (2020). Social and behavioral consequences of mask policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Proc Natl Acad Sci U. S. A., 117(36), 21851-21853

Brainard, J. S., Jones, N., Lake, I., Hooper, L., & Hunter, P. (2020). Facemasks and similar barriers to prevent respiratory illness such as COVID-19: A rapid systematic review. MedRxiv, 2020.2004.2001.20049528. doi:10.1101/2020.04.01.20049528

Castro, C. S., Holzgrefe Júnior, J. V., Reis, R. B., Andrade, B. B., & Quintanilha, L. F. (2020). COVID-19 pandemic: scenario of the Brazilian health system for coping with the crisis. Res Soc Developm, 9(7), e516974383. doi:10.33448/rsd-v9i7.4383

Chu, D. K., Akl, E. A., Duda, S., Solo, K., Yaacoub, S., Schunemann, H. J., & authors, C.-S. U. R. G. E. s. (2020). Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet, 395(10242), 1973-1987. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31142-9

Cotrin, P., Peloso, R. M., Oliveira, R. C., Oliveira, R. C. G., Pini, N. I. P., Valarelli, F. P., & Freitas, K. M. S. (2020). Impact of coronavirus pandemic in appointments and anxiety/concerns of patients regarding orthodontic treatment. Orthod Craniofac Res. doi:

Davies, A., Thompson, K. A., Giri, K., Kafatos, G., Walker, J., & Bennett, A. (2013). Testing the efficacy of homemade masks: would they protect in an influenza pandemic? Disaster Med Public Health Prep, 7(4), 413-418. doi:10.1017/dmp.2013.43

Fischer, E. P., Fischer, M. C., Grass, D., Henrion, I., Warren, W. S., & Westman, E. (2020). Low-cost measurement of facemask efficacy for filtering expelled droplets during speech. Sci Adv, eabd3083. doi:10.1126/sciadv.abd3083

Freitas, K. M. S., & Cotrin, P. (2020). COVID-19 and orthodontics in Brazil: What should we do? Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop, 158(3), 311. doi:10.1016/j.ajodo.2020.06.014

Furukawa, N. W., Brooks, J. T., & Sobel, J. (2020). Evidence supporting transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 while presymptomatic or asymptomatic. Emerg Infect Dis, 26(7). doi:10.3201/eid2607.201595

Howard, J., Huang, A., Li, Z., Tufekci, Z., Zdimal, V., van der Westhuizen, H., Rimoin, A. W. (2020). Face Masks Against COVID-19: An Evidence Review. Preprints 2020040203. doi:10.20944/preprints202004.0203.v1

Johns Hopkins University. (2020). COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU). Retrieved from

Kim, G. U., Kim, M. J., Ra, S. H., Lee, J., Bae, S., Jung, J., & Kim, S. H. (2020). Clinical characteristics of asymptomatic and symptomatic patients with mild COVID-19. Clin Microbiol Infect, 26(7), 948.e941-948.e943. doi:10.1016/j.cmi.2020.04.040

Kimball, A., Hatfield, K. M., Arons, M., James, A., Taylor, J., Spicer, K., Chisty, Z. (2020). Asymptomatic and presymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections in residents of a long-term care skilled nursing facility—King County, Washington, March 2020. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep, 69(13), 377

Kissler, S. M., Tedijanto, C., Goldstein, E., Grad, Y. H., & Lipsitch, M. (2020). Projecting the transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 through the postpandemic period. Science, 368(6493), 860-868. doi:10.1126/science.abb5793

Konda, A., Prakash, A., Moss, G. A., Schmoldt, M., Grant, G. D., & Guha, S. (2020). Aerosol filtration efficiency of common fabrics used in respiratory cloth masks. ACS nano, 14(5), 6339-6347

Leung, N. H. L., Chu, D. K. W., Shiu, E. Y. C., Chan, K. H., McDevitt, J. J., Hau, B. J. P., Cowling, B. J. (2020). Respiratory virus shedding in exhaled breath and efficacy of face masks. Nat Med, 26(5), 676-680. doi:10.1038/s41591-020-0843-2

Long, Y., Hu, T., Liu, L., Chen, R., Guo, Q., Yang, L., Du, L. (2020). Effectiveness of N95 respirators versus surgical masks against influenza: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Evid Based Med, 13(2), 93-101. doi:10.1111/jebm.12381

Ma, Q. X., Shan, H., Zhang, H. L., Li, G. M., Yang, R. M., & Chen, J. M. (2020). Potential utilities of mask-wearing and instant hand hygiene for fighting SARS-CoV-2. J Med Virol. doi:10.1002/jmv.25805

MacIntyre, C. R., Cauchemez, S., Dwyer, D. E., Seale, H., Cheung, P., Browne, G., Ferguson, N. (2009). Face mask use and control of respiratory virus transmission in households. Emerg Infect Dis, 15(2), 233-241. doi:10.3201/eid1502.081167

MacIntyre, C. R., & Chughtai, A. A. (2015). Facemasks for the prevention of infection in healthcare and community settings. BMJ, 350, h694. doi:10.1136/bmj.h694

Matuschek, C., Moll, F., Fangerau, H., Fischer, J. C., Zänker, K., van Griensven, M., Haussmann, J. (2020). Face masks: benefits and risks during the COVID-19 crisis. Eur J Med Res, 25(1), 32. doi:10.1186/s40001-020-00430-5

Nicola, M., Alsafi, Z., Sohrabi, C., Kerwan, A., Al-Jabir, A., Iosifidis, C., Agha, R. (2020). The socio-economic implications of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19): A review. Int J Surg, 78, 185-193. doi:10.1016/j.ijsu.2020.04.018

Peiris, J. S., Yuen, K. Y., Osterhaus, A. D., & Stohr, K. (2003). The severe acute respiratory syndrome. N Engl J Med, 349(25), 2431-2441. doi:10.1056/NEJMra032498

Peloso, R. M., Cotrin, P., Oliveira, R. C. G., Oliveira, R. C., Camacho, D. P., Pelloso, S. M., & Freitas, K. M. S. (2020). Impact of COVID-19 on healthcare graduation courses: students and professors’ perspective Res Soc Developm, 9(9), e893998099

Peloso, R. M., Pini, N. I. P., Sundfeld Neto, D., Mori, A. A., Oliveira, R. C. G., Valarelli, F. P., & Freitas, K. M. S. (2020). How does the quarantine resulting from COVID-19 impact dental appointments and patient anxiety levels? Braz Oral Res, 34, e84. doi:10.1590/1807-3107bor-2020.vol34.0084

Pfefferbaum, B., & North, C. S. (2020). Mental Health and the Covid-19 Pandemic. N Engl J Med, 383(6), 510-512. doi:10.1056/NEJMp2008017

Rader, B., White, L. F., Burns, M. R., Chen, J., Brilliant, J., Cohen, J., Brownstein, J. S. (2020). Mask Wearing and Control of SARS-CoV-2 Transmission in the United States. MedRxiv, 2020.2008.2023.20078964. doi:10.1101/2020.08.23.20078964

Schunemann, H. J., Akl, E. A., Chou, R., Chu, D. K., Loeb, M., Lotfi, T., Mertz, D. (2020). Use of facemasks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lancet Respir Med. doi:10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30352-0

Silva, W. M. (2019). Contribuições e Limitações de Revisões Narrativas e Revisões Sistemáticas na Área de Negócios. Rev Adm Contemp, 23(2), 1–11. doi:10.1590/1982-7849rac2019190094

Szczesniak, D., Ciulkowicz, M., Maciaszek, J., Misiak, B., Luc, D., Wieczorek, T., Rymaszewska, J. (2020). Psychopathological responses and face mask restrictions during the COVID-19 outbreak: Results from a nationwide survey. Brain Behav Immun, 87, 161-162. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2020.05.027

Tan, W., Hao, F., McIntyre, R. S., Jiang, L., Jiang, X., Zhang, L., Tam, W. (2020). Is returning to work during the COVID-19 pandemic stressful? A study on immediate mental health status and psychoneuroimmunity prevention measures of Chinese workforce. Brain Behav Immun, 87, 84-92. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2020.04.055

Tirupathi, R., Bharathidasan, K., Palabindala, V., Salim, S. A., & Al-Tawfiq, J. A. (2020). Comprehensive review of mask utility and challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Infez Med, 28(suppl 1), 57-63

van der Sande, M., Teunis, P., & Sabel, R. (2008). Professional and Home-Made Face Masks Reduce Exposure to Respiratory Infections among the General Population. PLoS One, 3(7), e2618. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002618

World Health Organization. (2020). Advice on the use of masks in the community, during home care and in health care settings in the context of the novel coronavirus (‎‎‎‎‎‎2019-nCoV)‎‎‎‎‎‎ outbreak: interim guidance, 29 January 2020. Retrieved from



How to Cite

PELOSO, R. M.; COTRIN, P.; MARQUES, T. de F.; PINZAN-VERCELINO, C. R. M. .; PELLOSO, S. M.; FREITAS, K. M. S. de. The widespread use of face masks during COVID-19 pandemics: a literature review. Research, Society and Development, [S. l.], v. 9, n. 10, p. e6089108576, 2020. DOI: 10.33448/rsd-v9i10.8576. Disponível em: Acesso em: 26 jun. 2022.



Review Article