Written by Dani Blum
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 allergy symptoms, there’s another excuse to maintain carrying your masks.
Whereas fabric and medical masks do a superb job of defending us from viral particles, research present masks additionally will be efficient at filtering frequent 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 allergy symptoms 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 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 carrying a masks may make for allergy victims with gentle, reasonable and extreme signs. Utilizing knowledge 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, practically 40 % skilled much less sneezing, runny nostril and stuffy nostril once they wore both a surgical or N95 masks. Among the many 91 nurses with reasonable signs, 30 % improved once they wore a surgical masks; that rose to 40 % once they wore an N95. Among the many 80 nurses who began the research with gentle signs, 43 nurses, or about 54 %, felt their signs improved whereas carrying a surgical or N95 masks, mentioned Dr. Amiel Dror, a physician-scientist at Galilee Medical Heart and Bar-Ilan College Azrieli School of Drugs and the lead writer on the research.
Masks use was additionally simpler for the nurses with seasonal allergy symptoms than these with year-round signs. Sporting a masks didn’t resolve the issue of itchy eyes, in line with the September report, printed in The Journal of Allergy and Scientific Immunology.
Though the findings counsel that carrying a masks can cut back allergy signs for some individuals, the researchers famous that extra research is required. It might be that the nurses skilled fewer signs as a result of, once they weren’t working, they have been staying dwelling and avoiding crowds throughout lockdowns, and thus had much less publicity to allergens within the surroundings. However 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 cut back many allergy signs.
Along with filtering out allergens, carrying a masks 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.”
Safety varies masks to masks, relying on the match and, for fabric masks, the weave of the material. And except you put on a masks always, you should still be affected by indoor allergens resembling 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 Surgical procedure at Johns Hopkins College of Drugs. “Pretty much everyone’s wearing masks most of the time now, and people are still getting allergy symptoms.”
Listed here are some extra tricks to cut back your signs throughout allergy season.
— PROTECT YOUR EYES: Dr. Lang recommends individuals who undergo from allergy symptoms put on glasses or sun shades once they’re exterior, 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 once they get dwelling and bathe earlier than sleep, to make sure that pollen doesn’t stick with their pores and skin, and wash reusable masks steadily. The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention recommends washing a fabric masks after every use.
— FIND A MASK THAT DOESN’T IRRITATE YOUR SKIN: Selecting the best masks for an allergy-prone wearer may also be vital. Folks with delicate pores and skin might react to dyes in some cloth masks and will use perfume-free detergents. Or select a surgical or medical grade masks, 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.”