As we head into our second pandemic spring, many people could also be itching to surrender our masks. However for the 19.2 million American adults affected by seasonal allergic reactions, there’s one more reason to maintain sporting your masks.
Whereas fabric and medical masks do a great job of defending us from viral particles, research present masks additionally will be efficient at filtering widespread allergens, which generally 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 allergic reactions to put on a masks exterior, particularly for extended actions like gardening or yardwork.
Utilizing 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 Well being. However over all, “if there’s much less pollen going into your nostril and mouth, you’re much less prone to have an allergy assault,” she mentioned.
Israeli researchers not too long ago studied how a lot distinction sporting a masks might make for allergy victims with gentle, reasonable and extreme signs. Utilizing 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 masks. Among the many 91 nurses with reasonable signs, 30 % improved after they wore a surgical masks; that rose to 40 % after they wore an N95. Among the many 80 nurses who began the examine with gentle signs, 43 nurses, or about 54 %, felt their signs improved whereas sporting a surgical or N95 masks, mentioned Dr. Amiel Dror, a physician-scientist at Galilee Medical Heart and Bar-Ilan College Azrieli College of Medication and the lead writer on the examine.
Masks use was additionally simpler for the nurses with seasonal allergic reactions than these with year-round signs. Sporting a masks didn’t remedy the issue of itchy eyes, in accordance with the September report, printed in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Though the findings counsel that sporting a masks can scale back allergy signs for some individuals, the researchers famous that extra examine is required. It could possibly be that the nurses skilled fewer signs as a result of, after they weren’t working, they had been staying dwelling and avoiding crowds throughout lockdowns, and thus had much less publicity to allergens within the surroundings. However the truth that masks sporting, 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 scale back many allergy signs.
Along with filtering out allergens, sporting a masks additionally makes the air in our nasal cavities hotter and extra humid, mentioned Dr. Dror. “We all know that dry air and chilly air typically has the flexibility to elicit a response within the nostril,” he mentioned. “That is an additional good thing about sporting a masks. With all of the unhealthy, you’ll find some good.”
Safety varies masks to masks, relying on the match and, for fabric masks, the weave of the material. And until you put on a masks always, you should still be affected by indoor allergens equivalent to mud mites or pollen carried by open home windows on spring breezes.
“It could possibly assist, but it surely’s not essentially going to remove all of your signs,” mentioned Dr. Sandra Lin, a professor of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgical procedure at Johns Hopkins College of Medication. “Just about everybody’s sporting masks more often than not now, and persons are nonetheless getting allergy signs.”
Listed below are some extra tricks to scale back your signs throughout allergy season.
Defend your eyes. Dr. Lang recommends individuals who undergo from allergic reactions put on glasses or sun shades after they’re exterior, which helps block allergens like tree pollen from making direct contact with eyes.
Wash and alter your masks regularly. “The very last thing you need is allergen getting trapped in it,” Dr. Parikh mentioned. She recommends sufferers change their garments after they get dwelling and bathe earlier than sleep, to make sure that pollen doesn’t keep on with their pores and skin, and wash reusable masks regularly. The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention recommends washing a fabric masks after every use.
Discover a masks that doesn’t irritate your pores and skin. Selecting the right mask for an allergy-prone wearer may also be necessary. Individuals 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 masks, that are much less prone to irritate pores and skin. “My allergy victims have very delicate pores and skin as a result of the identical critters that make them sneeze or cough can also irritate their pores and skin,” Dr. Parikh mentioned.
Discuss to a health care provider in case your allergy signs are extreme. “If persons are persevering with to have signs that intrude with regular exercise — in the event that they’re lacking work, lacking college, their sleep is disrupted at night time — see a doctor,” Dr. Lang mentioned. “There are different methods we may also help. You shouldn’t be struggling needlessly.”