While it is quite rare to see an individual wearing a face mask in public in the western countries, it is quite common in Asia. Countries like in Japan, Korea, and China have people wearing masks during the cold season or even for daily use. Most of them are disposable paper like face masks that come in packs of 3-10 depending on the brand. There are also reusable mouth masks that has a filter that you can change for every use.
Reasons for a face mask
As you may guess, most people in Asia use these type of masks to prevent getting a cold/disease from other people or to prevent their germs from spreading. If you do live in a congested metropolitan city, than it would make sense to take measures to not get sick because who wants to get sick? If a person lives in a city like Tokyo or Hong Kong, you are exposed to thousands if not tens of thousands of people in small indoor spaces. It could be either in a bathroom, a crowded train which your proximity may be close to only a few inches apart from another passenger, or a place to eat. Sometimes while commuting, you cannot avoid people that are sick around you and the best option is to simply wear a mask to protect yourself.
However, there are several other reasons to why mouth masks are worn and why it is widely used. Another reason is due to allergies. Some people have allergies from the pollen and the result of getting symptoms is from breathing in the pollen. During some peak allergy season in early spring, more people use the masks to prevent getting allergy symptoms, which include sneezing, red eyes, itchy eyes.
An uncommon use for some of the younger generation is simply for fashion. While it may sound quite odd to hear from outside of Asia, since masks are used quite often there are a wide variety of choices. There are several different colored masks and some cute animal mouth masks that young people like to wear.
Whatever the reason is to wear a mask, it is affordable and comes in handy anytime. The most commonly used is for the user's protection and to prevent the spread of germs if the user is sick. It is about caring about yourself while considering about others around you.