How to wear face masks in hot weather

Merced Sun-Star - - Market Value Place - By Nick Vadala

As any­one who’s spent time un­der a mask re­cently can tell you, the prac­tice isn’t of­ten en­joy­able. And as the weather warms up, face masks could be­come par­tic­u­larly sweaty and un­com­fort­able.

“Sum­mers are tough,” says Ni­cole Jochym, a third-year med­i­cal stu­dent at Cooper Med­i­cal School at Rowan Univer­sity who works with the Sew Face Masks

Philadel­phia or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Af­ter all, even as the tem­per­a­ture rises, the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion still rec­om­mends wear­ing face masks, and in some cases, it is re­quired. Luck­ily there are some strate­gies to help make mask­ing up more bear­able in warm weather.

CHOOSE YOUR MA­TE­RIAL

Wear­ing a mask can be hot and make breath­ing feel more dif­fi­cult. With that in mind, you’ll want to make sure your mask is rea­son­ably breath­able to help both in­crease com­fort and de­crease the im­pulse to touch the mask to ad­just it — which is a big no-no when out and about.

“You want a breath­able fab­ric,” Jochym says. Her rec­om­men­da­tion: Us­ing a mask that is made from 100% cot­ton. Ac­cord­ing to the CDC, good op­tions in­clude wo­ven cot­ton sheets and T-shirt fab­ric.

While cot­ton isn’t mois­turewick­ing, she says, it’s more breath­able than syn­thetic fab­rics like polyester, and it could make masks more com­fort­able in the heat. Avoid fil­ters, Jochym adds, be­cause they are of­ten made from syn­thetic ma­te­ri­als, and can make masks hot­ter and harder to breathe through.

CHECK THE FIT

Your mask should be some­what snug on your face, but you don’t want it to be so tight that it’s un­com­fort­able or dif­fi­cult to breathe through. To solve that is­sue, says Car­rie L. Ko­varik, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of der­ma­tol­ogy at the Hos­pi­tal of the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia, try out dif­fer­ent masks, or use one that has ad­justable ties.

“A tie mask prob­a­bly would be bet­ter. Elas­tic straps can be ir­ri­tat­ing be­hind the ear,” she says. “Don’t put it on so tight that you

can’t breathe.”

Jochym sec­onds that, say­ing that Sew Face Masks Philadel­phia en­cour­ages us­ing ties be­cause they are ad­justable. “Ev­ery face shape is dif­fer­ent,” she adds; ties have the po­ten­tial for a bet­ter, more com­fort­able fit.

BRING EX­TRAS

Cloth masks, the Penn­syl­va­nia Depart­ment of Health has noted, should not be worn when they be­come damp or wet, which could cause is­sues in the summer, when we’re all sweat­ing more heav­ily. Be­cause cot­ton masks will ab­sorb sweat when you wear them, Jochym says, it is im­por­tant to have sev­eral clean ones avail­able to use.

“In hot and hu­mid sum­mers, it could be dif­fi­cult to get around with just one,” she says. “You have to be able to switch it out as it gets damp on the in­side.”

Ko­varik adds that health­care work­ers are of­ten ad­vised to take a 15-minute break from wear­ing their mask ev­ery two hours to give their skin time to air out, which could mean us­ing sev­eral masks per day. If you plan to swap your mask, she says, do it at home, or if that is not pos­si­ble, in an area with­out other peo­ple. “You don’t want to take it off in the mid­dle of ev­ery­thing,” she says.

And al­ways fol­low proper mask re­moval tech­niques, in­clud­ing wash­ing your hands and not touch­ing the front of the mask.

LIMIT HOW LONG YOU WEAR ONE

If hot weather makes wear­ing a mask un­com­fort­able, try to limit the amount of time you need to wear one. Masks, the CDC says, should be worn in “pub­lic set­tings where other so­cial dis­tanc­ing mea­sures are dif­fi­cult to main­tain,” such as gro­cery stores and phar­ma­cies. Some states re­quire masks at all es­sen­tial busi­nesses.

“Think about when wear­ing a mask is nec­es­sary, and not wear­ing one when it is not needed,” Ko­varik says. You may not need one when driv­ing alone in your car, or sit­ting solo on your porch — as long as you are main­tain­ing proper so­cial dis­tanc­ing.

To help keep your mask time to a min­i­mum, Jochym

says, try plan­ning ef­fec­tive routes to your des­ti­na­tion, or plan your trips around the num­ber of masks that you have avail­able. And do not wear your mask off your nose when out in pub­lic.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR SKIN

Hot summer weather can cause mois­ture to build up un­der a mask, which can ir­ri­tate your skin (sim­i­lar to a di­a­per rash) Ko­varik says. That prob­lem, how­ever, may be less com­mon for peo­ple wear­ing cloth masks com­pared to health-care work­ers wear­ing less­breath­able sur­gi­cal or N95 masks.

“In hot weather, you will have a lot of mois­ture un­der there, and the skin can break down a lit­tle more,” she says. “Mois­ture from breath or heat builds up, and you can get a rash.”

If your skin does be­come ir­ri­tated due to us­ing a mask, Ko­varik rec­om­mends us­ing a non­come­do­genic (non-pore-block­ing) mois­tur­izer — and avoid prod­ucts like pe­tro­leum jelly. Ap­ply your pre­ferred salve af­ter wear­ing a mask to help re­pair skin.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Ko­varik rec­om­mends not wear­ing makeup un­der a mask, as it could fur­ther clog your pores.

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