The Influence of the Use of Face Masks During the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Human Microbiome – A Mini-Review

Izabela Chudzicka-Strugała1, Iwona Gołębiewska2, *, Grzegorz P. Brudecki3, Barbara Zwoździak1
1 Department of Medical Microbiology, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Wieniawskiego 3, 61-712, Poznan, Poland
2 Earth and Life Institute (ELI), UCLouvain, Croix du Sud 2, 1348 Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium.
3 Group 42 (Healthcare), Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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© 2021 Chudzicka-Strugała et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address corresponding to this author at Earth and Life Institute (ELI), UCLouvain, Croix du Sud 2, 1348 Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium; E-mail:


The aim of this study was to draw attention to the possible consequences of improper, unhygienic use of mouth and nose covers in the context of prophylaxis against the spread of COVID-19 from the point of view of a family physician and focus on the risk of respiratory infections and skin lesions in patients, in different age groups. The use of protective masks may reduce the likelihood of infection but will not eliminate the risk of infection. However, it should be remembered that any mask, no matter how effective the filtration is or how well it seals, will have little effect if not used in conjunction with other preventive measures, including isolation of infected people, immunization, proper respiratory culture, regular, frequent replacement of masks, and hand hygiene. Additionally, certain risks associated with this form of prophylaxis should be taken into account, which, unfortunately, may also aggravate or even constitute a source of serious respiratory infections and lead to the development and aggravation of skin problems. Moreover, educating society not only on hand hygiene but also on the topic of the value of nose and mouth covers, as well as the frequency of their replacement and/or disinfection, is becoming a significant issue.

Keywords: Face masks, COVID-19 prophylaxis, SARS-CoV-2 prophylaxis, Pathobionts, Human microbiome, COVID-19 pandemic.