Masks have seen their fair share of pros and cons over the past year in the pandemic era. On the one hand, they are proven barriers for slowing the spread of COVID-19; on the other, they can muffle speech and make communication difficult for those with hearing loss.
Though whether or not masks are here to stay a part of our daily routine, here’s another pro we perhaps didn’t see coming, right in time for another troublesome allergy season—recent data shows that masks can reduce a wearer’s allergy symptoms, blocking a significant amount of all the usual pollen suspects enough to provide relief.
A team of Israeli researchers studied over 215 nurses, with varying degrees of allergies, using surgical and N95 masks over a two-week period. The team found that among the 44 nurses with severe allergy symptoms, nearly 40% experienced less sneezing, runny nose and stuffy nose when they wore either a surgical or N95 mask.
Meanwhile, for the participating nurses with less severe allergy symptoms, or ‘moderate’, 30% reported an improvement due to mask use, and for those that fell under the ‘mild’ symptomatic category, the improvement percentage went up to 54%.
Though the Israeli research team urged a reporter via the New York Times that more studies are needed and that nurses could have experienced fewer allergy symptoms due to other factors such as social distancing measures and less exposure to allergens, for the 19.2 million Americans suffering from seasonal allergies, this is promising news.
In other words, a simple cloth mask—an accessory most of us have made part of our ‘new normal’ wardrobe—can’t hurt as another tool to combat seasonal allergies.
Keep in mind best practices if you’re going to use a mask as an allergy strategy—choosing a non-irritating fabric and washing it regularly for cloth options, rotating out N95s—and, of course, know that your eyes are still unprotected and susceptible to symptoms.
And should your allergies still cause you trouble, remember we are here to help! Find relief today by talking to our elite allergy team to develop an allergy strategy that works for you.
 Reduction of allergic rhinitis symptoms with face mask usage during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dror, Amiel A. et al. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, Volume 8, Issue 10, 3590 – 3593
 Blum, D. (2021, March 31). Can Wearing a Mask Reduce My Allergy Symptoms? The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/31/well/live/mask-allergy-symptoms.html.
“Had a great experience. Got in very quick and felt safe with covid protocol! Everyone was extremely nice.”