By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – Dr. Mallika Marshall is answering your coronavirus-related medical questions. If you have a question for Dr. Mallika, email her or message her on Facebook or Twitter.

Dr. Mallika is offering her best advice, but as always, consult your personal doctor before making any decisions about your personal health.

Is it safe to take my toddler to the playground? I originally thought the risk in doing so was surface contact transmission but is that the real risk? – Marissa on Facebook

Surface contamination probably plays much less of a role in transmission than person-to-person contact through respiratory droplets. I would look for an outdoor playground that isn’t busy where your toddler can easily stay away from other kids. And wipe off your child’s hands with disinfectant as soon as they’re done playing.

Jean is thinking about the upcoming holidays. She writes, “Is there a safe way to have a small gathering with other family members who don’t live with us? We do have an air purifier.”

An air purifier is not enough to protect you. It would be better if you could do something outdoors (though it will be cold) and if participants could get tested beforehand. You are still taking a risk by having an indoor gathering with people you don’t live with. Unfortunately, I think a lot of us are going to have to postpone holiday gatherings until it’s safer to get together.

Ann wants to know if clear surgical masks can protect against the coronavirus. “I think being able to see people’s expressions would be such a positive,” she writes.

The FDA recently approved a fully transparent mask called ClearMask. It has a clear plastic panel that allows you to see the wearer’s mouth but also protects against the coronavirus. They say it’s particularly useful for people who rely on lip reading for communication.

Is it safe for a diabetic to get a tattoo during the pandemic?- Chrissy on Facebook

I have a couple of concerns. As a diabetic, you’re at higher risk of developing severe COVID infection so being in an enclosed space with other individuals to get a tattoo may not be worth that risk. Coronavirus aside, you’re also at a higher risk of getting a skin infection. So before you schedule an appointment, talk to your doctor about the pros and cons.

Dr. Mallika Marshall


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