Written by Dani Blum
As we head into our second pandemic spring, many people could also be itching to surrender our masks. But for the 19.2 million American adults affected by seasonal allergy symptoms, there’s one more reason to maintain wearing your mask.
While fabric and medical masks do a good job of defending us from viral particles, research present masks additionally could be efficient at filtering frequent allergens, which usually float round in a lot bigger sizes, making them simpler to dam. Pine tree pollen, for instance, is about 800 instances bigger than the coronavirus, mentioned Dr. David Lang, an allergist at Cleveland Clinic. Even earlier than the pandemic, he suggested sufferers with extreme allergy symptoms to put on a mask outdoors, particularly for extended actions like gardening or yardwork.
Using masks to alleviate allergy signs can require a little bit of “trial and error,” mentioned Dr. Purvi Parikh, an allergist and immunologist at N.Y.U. Langone Health. But over all, “if there’s less pollen going into your nose and mouth, you’re less likely to have an allergy attack,” she mentioned.
Israeli researchers just lately studied how a lot distinction wearing a mask might make for allergy victims with delicate, reasonable and extreme signs. Using information collected from 215 nurses who used surgical masks or N95 masks throughout a two-week interval, they discovered that among the many 44 nurses with extreme allergy signs, almost 40 % skilled much less sneezing, runny nostril and stuffy nostril after they wore both a surgical or N95 mask. Among the 91 nurses with reasonable signs, 30 % improved after they wore a surgical mask; that rose to 40 % after they wore an N95. Among the 80 nurses who began the examine with delicate signs, 43 nurses, or about 54 %, felt their signs improved whereas wearing a surgical or N95 mask, mentioned Dr. Amiel Dror, a physician-scientist at Galilee Medical Center and Bar-Ilan University Azrieli Faculty of Medicine and the lead creator on the examine.
Mask use was additionally simpler for the nurses with seasonal allergy symptoms than these with year-round signs. Wearing a mask didn’t clear up the issue of itchy eyes, in keeping with the September report, revealed in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Although the findings counsel that wearing a mask can reduce allergy signs for some folks, the researchers famous that extra examine is required. It may very well be that the nurses skilled fewer signs as a result of, after they weren’t working, they had been staying house and avoiding crowds throughout lockdowns, and thus had much less publicity to allergens within the atmosphere. But the truth that mask-wearing, which covers the nostril and mouth, was related to enhancements in nasal signs, however not eye irritation, means that masking in all probability did assist reduce many allergy signs.
In addition to filtering out allergens, wearing a mask additionally makes the air in our nasal cavities hotter and extra humid, mentioned Dr. Dror. “We know that dry air and cold air sometimes has the ability to elicit a reaction in the nose,” he mentioned. “This is an extra benefit of wearing a mask. With all the bad, you can find some good.”
Protection varies mask to mask, relying on the match and, for fabric masks, the weave of the material. And until you put on a mask always, you should still be affected by indoor allergens similar to mud mites or pollen carried by open home windows on spring breezes.
“It can help, but it’s not necessarily going to take away all your symptoms,” mentioned Dr. Sandra Lin, a professor of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. “Pretty much everyone’s wearing masks most of the time now, and people are still getting allergy symptoms.”
Here are some extra tricks to reduce your signs throughout allergy season.
— PROTECT YOUR EYES: Dr. Lang recommends individuals who undergo from allergy symptoms put on glasses or sun shades after they’re outdoors, which helps block allergens like tree pollen from making direct contact with eyes.
— WASH AND CHANGE YOUR MASK FREQUENTLY: “The last thing you want is allergen getting trapped in it,” Dr. Parikh mentioned. She recommends sufferers change their garments after they get house and bathe earlier than sleep, to make sure that pollen doesn’t persist with their pores and skin, and wash reusable masks steadily. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing a fabric mask after every use.
— FIND A MASK THAT DOESN’T IRRITATE YOUR SKIN: Choosing the precise mask for an allergy-prone wearer will also be vital. People with delicate pores and skin might react to dyes in some material masks and may use perfume-free detergents. Or select a surgical or medical grade mask, that are much less more likely to irritate pores and skin. “My allergy sufferers have very sensitive skin because the same critters that make them sneeze or cough also can irritate their skin,” Dr. Parikh mentioned.
— TALK TO A DOCTOR IF YOUR ALLERGY SYMPTOMS ARE SEVERE: “If people are continuing to have symptoms that interfere with normal activity — if they’re missing work, missing school, their sleep is disrupted at night — see a physician,” Dr. Lang mentioned. “There are other ways we can help. You shouldn’t be suffering needlessly.”