Research from the last 12 months shows that mask-wearing can reduce allergy symptoms, but also decreased the spread of COVID-19, influenza, as well as other viruses causing the common cold.
Reports of mask use improving allergy symptoms has been reported since mask wearing has become commonplace across the United States due to COVID 19. It has been previously reported in 2005 with similar improvement in Japan where it has been historically more commonplace to wear a facemask and eyeglasses to prevent pollen inhalation. (Inhibitory effects of facemasks and eyeglasses on invasion of pollen particles in the nose and eye: a clinical study)
In a recent report in 2020, nurses who wore either surgical or N95 face masks during COVID-19 pandemic reported fewer symptoms of allergic rhinitis. A standard surgical mask can filter particles larger than 3 micrometers, while an N95 mask can filter particles as small as 0.04 micrometers while pollen is typically between 10 -100 micrometers in size and fungal between 2 and 50 micrometers. Thus, wearing a mask could filter out all these pollen and mold based allergic triggers.
Face masks have traditionally been used in general infection control, but their efficacy at the population level in preventing transmission of influenza and other viruses has been limited. The infectivity of COVIS 19 and influenza A virus are very high, so that transmission of infection may involve low doses of virus. (The Effect of Mask Use on the Spread of Influenza During a Pandemic). In a recent modelling study dedicated to COVID 19, face masks by the general public did demonstrate high value in curtailing community transmission and the burden of the pandemic. The community-wide benefits are likely to be greatest when face masks are used in conjunction with other non-pharmaceutical practices (such as social-distancing, washing of hands), and when adoption is nearly universal (nation-wide) and compliance is high.(To mask or not to mask: Modeling the potential for face mask use by the general public to curtail the COVID-19 pandemic). However, when examining earlier studies on Influenza, they had limited success which appears to be due to the lack of using them “before” the actual potential flu season begins.
Mask use can clearly reduce allergy symptoms when used daily and when used before pollen alerts or viral spread starts clearly have shown to help decrease the suffering associated with these conditions.
For this summer season --- Dr. Bielory’s recommendation: Wearing your mask is advisable if you are involved with individuals who have not been vaccinated. The Delta variant of COVID is highly contagious and vaccination helps prevent its dissemination. Wearing a mask will also assist those especially sensitive to pollen and molds while performing outdoor activities. Sinusol® Products (www.DRBRX.com) can be used to spray your mask as well!