Can COVID-19 face masks help against seasonal allergies?

Updated: Mar. 24, 2021 at 10:35 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - You’ve seen it on your car, the sidewalk, and on the road. Pollen season is upon us.

The CDC says more than 25 million Americans have seasonal pollen allergies but can wearing your COVID mask actually help?

“Yes, it can. It can help cut down on your exposure,” said Dr. Jo Reed, an Allergy and Immunology Physician at Ochsner Health.

Experts say COVID-19 face masks are indeed helping people because they filter out pollen.

Since pollen particles are bigger, both standard surgical masks and N95 masks can provide that necessary protection.

“Last Spring was the first time we could wear a mask and it would make sense that sort of the large particulate causes of inhalation allergies that it would be protected,” said Dr. Henry Barham, a Rhinologist with Sinus and Nasal Specialist of Louisiana.

The CDC says while masks may be helpful, you should not rely on them as your only defense.

Doctors suggest keeping your hands clean and change up your habits if you’re outside a lot during the spring season.

“Pollen is highest early morning. So I usually encourage people that like to run or work out in the morning, to avoid doing it outside or do it at a later time of the day where pollen is not as high,” said Dr. Reed.

They’re also advising people to keep your mask clean, remove them properly, and if you have a reusable one, wash it after every use.

“I would highly encourage when you remove the mask, try to limit the amount of touching around the area that’s exposed. Make sure you wash your masks regularly because pollen is sticky and particles will land on the mask and if you don’t wash it, every time you re-expose yourself by putting it on your face, you’re exposing yourself to the particles again,” said Dr. Reed.

Keep in mind that some of those allergy symptoms can resemble those of COVID. The biggest difference is COVID will usually come with a fever and that loss of taste and smell. Experts urge that you call your doctor if you’re not sure.

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