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VERIFY: Can wearing a face mask weaken the immune system?

No, research does not support the idea that wearing a mask will weaken your immune system and leave you more susceptible to the coronavirus.

WASHINGTON — QUESTION: 

Can wearing a face mask weaken the immune system?

ANSWER: 

No. Research does not support the idea that wearing a mask will weaken your immune system and make you more vulnerable to the coronavirus. 

SOURCES:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Mayo Clinic

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

PROCESS:

Social media posts like this, shared thousands of times, say wearing a mask will weaken your immune system and lead to you getting sick.

So our Verify team combed through the sources above to see if this is true or false.

We know one of the main reasons the CDC has recommended everyone wears masks is because of asymptomatic cases.

Even if you don’t think you’re sick and aren’t showing symptoms, health experts say wearing a mask is an important tool against COVID-19.

"Importantly, putting a mask on yourself is more to prevent you from infecting someone else," Dr. Anthony Fauci said on PBS NewsHour. "And if everyone does that, we're each protecting each other."

After initial recommendations from health experts said only health care workers and those who are sick should wear masks, the CDC revised their guidelines, saying they should be worn in community settings, while also adhering to other precautions.

The Mayo Clinic also advises similarly, saying everyone should routinely wash your hands, avoid touching your face, and properly remove face masks.

Neither the CDC, nor the Mayo Clinic, mentions anything about a reduced ability to fight other infection.

Those supporting the social media claims about masks say because the mask keeps you from being exposed to things like bacteria, that will weaken your immune system.

But experts say that bacteria from food, water and our environment is everywhere, and millions of microbes will still get into our systems one way or the other. This means our immune systems are constantly operating, with or without a mask.

Ultimately, we can verify – No, research does not support the idea that wearing a mask will weaken your immune system and make you more vulnerable to the coronavirus.

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