Mitigating Allergies with Face Masks: Type Affects Level of Protection

Many companies and cities are reintroducing face mask regulations as COVID cases start to rise once more.

That might be annoying, especially after having to wear them intermittently for more than two years.

However, for people who have seasonal allergies, it might be a blessing.

Face masks are effective at preventing people from inhaling allergens like pollen because they can help keep smaller, viral particles at bay.

Virus particles are much smaller than common allergen particles, which can be hundreds of times larger.

Therefore, whichever type of face mask you have should provide a respectable level of protection.

Level of Protection vs. Type

While most face masks will filter out common allergens more effectively than virus particles, different types of face masks have varying degrees of effectiveness.

An Israeli study examined nurses who were wearing face masks and had mild to severe allergy symptoms. They discovered that while wearing surgical face masks, the nurses with severe allergies experienced a 30% reduction in allergy symptoms.

When they switched to N95 face masks, that percentage increased to 40%.

However, both types of face masks reduced symptoms to a similar extent in people with milder symptoms.

In general, the face masks were effective in reducing seasonal allergies, but they had less of an effect on persistent allergies like smoke and pet dander.

Cloth face masks will provide some protection against larger pollen particles, according to UCLA Health, even though they weren’t taken into account in the study.

However, no face mask will protect the eyes, so for those who experience allergic reactions and want to venture outside on days with a high pollen count, wearing glasses with side guards should be considered if some of the allergy symptoms include red, itchy, and / or watery eyes.

Also Read: Experts Recommend Upgrading Face Mask Due to Alarming Spread of Omicron 

Facemask for Allergies

It is not necessary to put on a face mask before leaving the house if you suffer from seasonal allergies.

Some people may be more sensitive than others to particular pollen types.

It is advised to check an allergy tracker first to see if the local pollen count is high.

Even if it is, the majority of pollen, such as tree and grass pollen, peaks around midday, so individuals going outside in the morning may not need to wear face masks.

Because raindrops can weigh down pollen in the air, there may be less of a pollen effect when it is raining.

In particular, when spending a lot of time around allergens like trees and grass, people with more severe seasonal allergies may want to wear a face mask frequently during allergy season.

They might also want to think about switching to a surgical or N95 face mask, which has better filtering capacities. Even if they are only going to the garden for a short while, wearing a face mask will help control symptoms when they are that close to potentially allergen-inducing plants.

Experts advise that when wearing a face mask, it is advised not to touch the front after being outside because pollen is likely to be present.

If the face mask is disposable, throw it away right away. If the face mask is reusable, wash it with soap and water.

The Weather Channel reported that reusable face masks should be washed frequently because allergens tend to accumulate on them over time, aggravating symptoms.

Related article: Food Allergy Causes Immunity or Low-Risk Infection from COVID-19: NIH Study 

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