In addition to reducing your risk of a COVID-19 infection, wearing a face mask while outdoors can reportedly help people suffering from seasonal allergies.
This will be welcome news for the over 19 million people in American who deal with seasonal allergies The New York Times reports the masks we have been wearing for the last year may continue to help those with allergies while they are outside, noting, "Cloth and medical masks do a good job of protecting us from viral particles, studies show masks also can be effective at filtering common allergens, which typically float around in much larger sizes, making them easier to block. Pine tree pollen, for example, is about 800 times larger than the coronavirus."
Allergist and immunologist Dr. Purvi Parikh explains the idea is pretty simple, telling the NYT, "If there’s less pollen going into your nose and mouth, you’re less likely to have an allergy attack."
In one study, 40 percent of the participants had less sneezing, fewer runny noses, and experienced fewer stuffy noses when they wore either a surgical or N95 mask, and 54 percent said their seasonal allergy symptoms improved while wearing a surgical or N95 mask.
The health experts note further research is needed and explain the level of relief you may get from wearing a mask depends on the mask type and fit. They also acknowledge people can still experience indoor allergens or feel the effects of seasonal allergies from pollen that enters our homes through open windows.
Some other steps you can take to improve your season allergies include:
- Protecting your eyes with glasses or sunglasses
- Change or wash your mask frequently to ensure pollen is not trapped in it
- Wear a mask that fits well and does not irritate your skin
- Consult with your doctor if your seasonal allergies are or become severe