Do Masks Help with Allergies?
Yes, face masks can help with allergies. They work by preventing users from inhaling common allergens such as pollen and spores. Masks can also filter air pollutants like ash and smoke.
According to the American College of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, allergies are the sixth most common cause of chronic illness in the United States. Research shows that over 50 million Americans suffer from allergies annually.
There are many different types of allergies today, but they are yet to have a cure, making most people use over-the-counter medicines to help relieve their allergy symptoms. Meanwhile, others look for alternative ways to manage their allergies, such as by using face masks.
So does wearing a mask help with allergies?
Well, that will depend on the type of face mask you're using, and the type of allergy you're dealing with.
What Is an Allergy?
An allergy is a condition that occurs when an individual reacts to substances that are relatively harmless to others. Allergies can happen because of food, animal fur, dust, medicines, or pollen.
One of the most common allergies is allergic rhinitis or hay fever. A reaction to airborne allergens such as animal dander, dust mites, and mold can lead to seasonal allergies. A study shows that allergic rhinitis, for example, affects one in every six people.
Allergens that cause seasonal allergies are usually from plants with extremely high pollen counts during the spring, summer, and fall seasons. People with allergic rhinitis, such as reactions to a pollen allergy, may experience symptoms such as the following:
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
Does Wearing a Mask Help with Allergies?
Yes, a face mask can be used to stop allergens, such as pollen, animal dander, fungal spores, mite feces, house dust, and mold spores from being inhaled. In addition, it can filter air pollutants, such as smoke, gases, or volcanic ash. The mask's effectiveness however, will depend on its quality and how you wear it.
On top of reducing allergy symptoms, face masks can help eliminate the spread of contagious diseases.
Face mask usage during the COVID-19 pandemic led many to discover the importance of masks in preventing allergic reactions, and resulted in studies concentrating on whether wearing a mask can help allergy sufferers.
A 2020 study was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic involving 301 nurses who suffered from allergic rhinitis. Researchers wanted to know whether face masks could reduce allergic rhinitis symptoms within one week, and the results actually showed a significant decrease in allergic symptoms for those who wore surgical or N95 face masks.
In another study, 14 adults with grass pollen-induced allergic rhinoconjunctivitis were exposed to grass pollen for two hours. Results showed that those with FFP2 or medical masks were able to avoid both nasal and conjunctival symptoms. Meanwhile, those without masks succumbed immediately after exposure and experienced different allergic reactions.
How Do Masks Provide Allergy Relief?
How well a mask works depends on the size of its pores. Masks can filter common irritants because most allergens are larger than bacteria and germs. Generally, an N95 respirator may filter particles as fine as 0.3 microns. However, a surgical mask can only filter irritants larger than 3 microns.
The mask's physical filtration properties play a crucial and more significant role in filtering allergens. In addition, the increased temperature and humidity of the air you breathe when wearing a mask can help reduce an allergic reaction.
Which Is the Best Mask for Allergy Prevention?
Any mask approved for COVID-19 prevention can generally prevent allergic reactions. However, the protection rate will highly depend on the type of mask.
These three masks are the most commonly used for allergy prevention: cloth, surgical, and N95.
A cloth mask is considered the least effective among the three. However, it depends on the type of material used. According to a study published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, cloth masks have lower filtration rates than medical and N95 masks.
However, well-designed, multilayered cotton masks are more effective than gauze masks. Even though cloth masks are not recommended for healthcare workers, they can be helpful in community settings for those who don't have access to surgical masks. Keep in mind that using any face mask is better than none. Also, make sure to wash a cloth mask after every use.
Surgical masks will reduce allergens more effectively than cloth masks since they can filter smaller particles. However, they don't always have an excellent fit around the edges, in which case wearing one surgical mask on top of another can be effective in preventing allergens.
The N95 mask filters out 95% of particles in the air and is considered the most effective among the three. It's a tight-fitting mask that covers your nose and mouth, making it hot and humid. Most people will find it difficult to breathe when wearing an N95 mask, but the allergy relief it provides is worth it.
You can also go for KN95 masks as they have the same rating; the only difference is where the masks are certified. N95 meets American standards and is thus approved by FDA, while K95 meets Chinese standards.
Tips for Wearing Masks to Prevent Allergies
Allergies are uncomfortable and depressing, which is why people are always looking for ways to reduce their allergic reactions. Here are some tips on choosing a suitable mask and wearing it appropriately to prevent allergies.
- Choose a comfortable mask made with breathable materials.
- Go for masks that have multiple layers.
- Ensure your mask fits snugly against your face and doesn't leak.
- Ensure you cover your nose and mouth to block allergens effectively.
- Avoid touching your face while wearing the mask.
- Replace the mask as soon as it gets dirty or wet.
- Wash your hands before and after removing the mask.
Face masks will not protect you against eye allergies. However, sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat can help reduce airborne allergens from coming into contact with your eyes.
Other Remedies for Your Allergies
It's important to note that face masks are not a cure-all for allergies. Using them with other allergy prevention methods may stop or reduce your allergen reaction. Here are a few measures you can take:
1. Avoid triggers
If you know what triggers your allergies, do your best to avoid them. This might mean staying indoors when seasonal allergies kick in and keeping your doors and windows closed. You can further prevent allergic reactions by letting your pet sleep anywhere besides your bedroom.
2. Eliminate dust mites
Dust mites are tiny creatures that thrive in dusty environments. They are a common trigger for allergies, so keeping them under control is essential. To do this, regularly wash your bedding in hot water and vacuum your floors and furniture.
3. Use air filters
Research shows that the air in our houses can contain more allergies than the air outside. Air filters can help trap allergens like pollen and dust. This will help remove harmful particles from the air, making it easier for you to breathe.
4. Take allergy medication
If you're susceptible to severe allergies, take medication before you come in contact with anything that might trigger your allergic reaction.
5. Stay clean
Allergens can build up on your hair, skin, and clothing when outside. So it's important to shower and wash your clothes once you've finished your outdoor activities.
6. Visit an allergist
If you've tried all the above but still experience severe allergies, visiting an allergist is best. An allergist will help you identify your allergies and develop a treatment plan.
Wear Masks to Prevent Allergy Symptoms
Allergies can disrupt how you do your daily activities. The good news is that you can use face masks to continue on your daily routines feeling protected. Although they don't entirely prevent all allergens, these masks can stop allergic rhinitis symptoms from happening.
Protect yourself with WellBefore face masks. These masks can help manage your pollen allergies and more.
We have a variety of masks, including 3-ply disposable masks, N95, KN95, and more. Besides stocking masks, we also sell nitrile and vinyl gloves, which can protect against skin allergies and harsh chemicals.
Visit our online store today to place an order.