Researchers studied the effectiveness of surgical masks in combination with a silk face mask. (Credit: University of Cincinnati)

A double layer of silk in combination with a surgical mask can enhance its ability to prevent the spread of viruses like COVID-19.

The researchers began investigating silk as an alternative face mask material at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 when personal protective equipment such as the N95 face mask was in short supply.

UC researchers found that double masking with a silk face mask also helps prolong the life of surgical masks without impeding a person's ability to breathe comfortably.

The researchers note that people are still using surgical masks to protect others and themselves, but that they can be loose at the sides and around the nose. As cases of COVID-19 begin to increase across the United States, more people are reaching for masks again to protect themselves and those around them.

At the time of the study, the researchers note that personal protective equipment was at a premium in terms of availability because of supply-chain issues.