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10 Fashionable Face Masks People With Chronic Illness Recommend

Many people may wear face masks to help protect against dust or hazardous airborne particles – especially if they live or work in an environment where pollution, chemicals and irritants are commonplace. During flu season, some may also choose to wear masks to help prevent the transmission of bacteria and viruses.

For those with chronic illness, wearing a face mask can be especially important. Some people struggle with a suppressed or weakened immune system due to their illness or medication, making them more vulnerable to contracting the flu or an infectious illness. Others in the chronic illness community may have heightened sensitivities to dust, allergens or certain chemicals and wear a mask to avoid inhaling these irritants. Or, if you’re a caregiver of someone with a compromised immune system, you might wear a mask to help prevent yourself from passing contaminants on to your loved one.

Studies have suggested masks may not be 100 percent effective at stopping the spread potentially harmful airborne particles, but they can help reduce the risk of contamination. There are two main types of masks, face masks and respirators, and while they look similar, they have some key differences.

Face masks cover the nose and mouth, but are looser-fitting and don’t seal completely. They are designed to be a barrier against droplets of fluid, such as coughs or sneezes, that may contain viruses, but they don’t prevent the spread of airborne contaminants. Some face masks are disposable while others can be washed and reused.

Respirators also act as a barrier, but they are considered more effective than face masks for preventing the spread of viruses because they form a perfect seal (if worn properly) and filter out 95 percent of airborne particles, both large and small. A respirator can be worn to protect against airborne infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and anthrax, and may also be used when handling toxic materials. Some are made for single use while others are reusable and made with filler cartridges that must be replaced periodically.

Deciding whether to use a face mask or respirator depends on your individual health, the people you may come into contact with and your surrounding environment.

We wanted to know which brands of face masks and respirators those with chronic illness find most effective, so we asked our Mighty community which masks they wear to lower their risk of getting sick (or getting others sick). Here are their recommendations.

We hope the products below, all recommended by our Mighty community members, help you or a loved one in your health journeys. Just so you know, The Mighty may collect a share of sales from the Amazon links on this page.

1. Vogmask

floral vogmask

Vogmask is a filtering respirator intended for general public use that can help protect you against allergens, poor air quality and airborne contaminants. It can filter out up to 99 percent of airborne particles.

“I use a Vogmask,” said Rachel Guerra. “There’s lots of patterns to choose from. They are a little pricey (around $30) but mine is super comfortable and it has an exhale valve which also helps with my asthma.”

Britany Harden added, “I use Vogmask. The ear straps were too tight so my mom sewed on different ones, but after that I loved it. It’s not 100 percent effective, but what mask is, especially if you have immunodeficiency.”

Buy the face mask above for $33 from Vogmask.

2. Disposable Hospital Masks

disposable face masks

These commercial-grade face masks are disposable and made for general protective purposes. They contain an aluminum guard you can mold to fit snugly around your nose.

Stephanie Ann Middleton told us, “Hospital type masks are fine and disposable. We order them by the case. Each mask is only good until it gets moist – less than an hour. Changing regularly is necessary if you truly have an immunocompromised condition.”

Capri Sprazzle wrote, “I use disposable ones. I had been meaning to look for a non-disposable option but never found any I liked or that could help with things like the flu, not just air quality.”

Buy the disposable face masks above (100-ct.) for $13.67 from Amazon.

3. Guoer

guoer pink floral face mask

Guoer offers face masks in a variety of fun patterns and colors. They are made with a five-layer activated carbon filer and can be washed and reused.

Buy the face mask above for $13.98 from Amazon.

4. N95 Respirator

n95 respirator mask

This disposable particulate respirator helps provide reliable respiratory protection of at least 95 percent filtration efficiency against certain non-oil based particles. The Cool Flow Exhalation Valve helps reduce heat build-up inside the respirator.

“N95 Respirator,” recommended Colleen Sullivan. “Can be purchased at medical supply stores or even hardware stores. Just make sure the fit is very tight. As a registered nurse, it’s what I used to care for patients with tuberculosis, meningitis, measles, mumps, etc.”

Buy the respirator mask above (pack of 10) for $15.50 from Amazon.

5. Breathe Healthy

breathe healthy face mask

Breathe Healthy face masks are designed to protect against dust, pollen, allergens and the flu. It is made with an antimicrobial agent that kills germs and lasts as long as the mask, even after multiple washings.

Sally Edwards wrote, “I use Breathe Healthy masks. I love them! They have loads of colors and patterns, however I prefer low-key.” 

Buy the face mask above for $16 from Breathe Healthy.

6. Home Depot Neoprene Dust Mask

home depot red neoprene dust mask

This neoprene respirator is designed for landscaping or outdoor work, but it provides all-purpose protection and can filtrate up to 99.9 percent of all particulates and dust. Its dual valve exhaust provides one-way easy breathing, expels moisture and optimizes temperature.

“There are some with mini ventilators I picked up at Home Depot to clean around our farm,” said Mary Oster Boumeester. “My face doesn’t get as hot in them, and airflow is better. It might look funny in public but it’s a mask – people will double-take anyway, comfort matters more.”

Buy the mask above for $36.61 from Home Depot.

7. Cambridge Mask Co.

black patterned cambridge face mask

Cambridge masks are washable and reusable. They can filter out almost 100 percent of particulate matter, allergens or irritants, air pollution and harmful airborne pathogens such as viruses and bacteria.

“I use Cambridge masks!” Willow Elizabeth Adler told us. “They come in several sizes, are adjustable, and come in several colors and patterns! They are [a] reusable mask that protects against germs along with allergens.”

Buy the face mask above for $30 from Amazon.

8. MyAir

myair face mask

MyAir face masks block out 99.997 percent of of viruses, bacteria, allergens and contaminants. The reusable two-way mask comes with three replaceable filters and contains advanced filtration technology that helps reduce moisture loss.

“MyAir face mask,” suggested Jenn L. Bullock. “Reusable outer and comfortable… disposable inside for sanitary reasons. Tons of patterns. Loops are Lycra, not elastic, so it is soft and doesn’t make your ears sore.”

Buy the face mask above for $23 from Amazon.

9. Kpop Face Masks

kpop black and white face masks

These face masks are 100 percent cotton, come in fun black and white designs and help protect against airborne dust, germs, allergens, smoke, pollution, ash and pollen.

“I buy Kpop faces masks,” said Sarah Terese Manning. “They are fun and lift my spirits. I buy mine on eBay. They are cotton and easy to wash. Admittedly they are normally black and white.”

Buy the face masks above (pack of 4) for $4.73 from eBay.

10. ChronicallyIllKrafts Shop on Etsy

star wars face mask from chronicallyillkrafts shop on etsy

Kaile Norris is the creator of the patterned and reversible face masks she sells on Etsy. She was inspired to start making face masks after she developed several chronic illnesses and would often become septic, causing her to need some extra protection against airborne particles and pathogens.

Amanda Herdman told us, “I have a few made by a fellow chronic illness warrior! She makes them in all different fun designs, and even does custom ones.”

Buy the face mask above for $5.50 from Etsy.

The lifetime of a mask can depend on your health and environment. Be sure to check the packaging and date of manufacture on your mask for instructions about how long it will remain effective.

Have a brand of face masks you’d recommend? Let us know in the comments below!