Spring is the perfect time to enjoy the awakening flora at Tamarak Nature Preserve and watch evening thunderstorms roll through the city through an open window. But spending time outside can mean experiencing unpleasant springtime allergy symptoms. Fortunately, one study shows that wearing a face mask can not only help protect you from COVID-19, but also prevent exposure to allergens.
About the Study
The study was published in the November-December 2020 issue of the Journal of Clinical Immunology. It began in April 2020 at the onset of both the pandemic and last year’s allergy season.
The researchers from the Galilee Medical Center, Bar-IIlan University and Tel Aviv University examined data from 1,824 nurses in the Israeli medical system who worked in respiratory wards or who had direct contact with COVID-19 patients. Most nurses reported wearing two masks on a daily basis, though some reported wearing just one.
Most of the 301 nurses who had seasonal allergies reported experiencing decreased symptoms after they began to wear a mask at the start of the pandemic. The amount of relief they experienced varied based on which type and how many masks were worn.
- Nurses who wore two masks reported decreased mild to severe allergy symptoms.
- Nurses who wore only N95 masks reported decreased severe symptoms but still experienced mild symptoms.
- Nurses who wore only surgical masks reported decreased mild symptoms but still experience severe symptoms.
- All nurses still reported experiencing itchy, watery eyes, even when masking up.
How Masks Provide Allergy Relief
Pollen and most other environmental allergens are larger-sized particles than bacteria and germs, which is why masks provide effective protection. While most allergens can be filtered out by surgical masks, some – like smoke – are better filtered by N95s.
Any mask that has been approved to protect against COVID-19 will provide at least some level of protection against environmental allergens as well.
Face masks won’t be in our lives forever, but allergens will be. For long-term protection against allergies, immunotherapy is the best option. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the allergy experts at Midwest Allergy & Asthma today.