As more and more Americans get vaccinated every day, we’re all starting to see the light at the end of proverbial tunnel. While it’s exciting to feel like we’re slowly arriving at the pandemic’s finish line, it can also be a bummer to realize we’ll still need to take precautions for many more months, including continuing to wear face masks this spring. However, there’s a little silver lining when it comes to keeping that face mask on: Scientists say that it could reduce symptoms of seasonal allergies, even severe one.
An Israeli study that appeared in the November issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology looked at over 1,800 participants, over 300 of whom were seasonal allergy sufferers dealing with issues like stuffy noses, sore throats, red eyes, trouble breathing, and more. Researchers not only wanted to see if mask-wearing itself could reduce symptoms but also what types of masks made the biggest difference.
All told, participants who either wore two masks or an N95 masks experienced the biggest reduction in allergy symptoms, with many seeing their most severe side effects become much easier to deal with on a daily basis. Participants who wore surgical masks saw a decrease in symptoms as well, though not as big of a decrease. The only common side effect of allergies that remained unchanged regardless of mask was eye irritation, which is understandable given that our eyes aren’t covered by common face masks.
The reason for these results is pretty straightforward: masks block particles, including pollen particles and other types of allergens that appear more frequently during the spring months. Particle size matters when it comes to if a mask can protect you from coming down with allergy symptoms, but many allergens are still blocked by face coverings nonetheless.
While wearing a Covid-related face mask might not eliminate your allergies entirely, it can reduce some of your worst symptoms and make them much more mild and manageable. And at the end of the day, we could all use a few silver linings heading into the warmer months. Wear that face mask and enjoy having less intense allergies than usual. (And if you’re looking for a few cute masks to ride out the pandemic, we’ve got more than a few suggestions!)