(AscendHealthy.com) – Wearing a mask is designed to protect us from germs, but what about when that mask gets moist? Is there any advantage to a “humid” mask, or could that be putting us at greater risk of illness?
Humidity May Mean Greater Protection
As it turns out, human respiratory tracts like humidity. That’s because the small hairs inside them, called cilia, work with mucus in the tract’s lining to move allergens and germs back out, so they don’t make us sick. When a face mask is moist, it creates a humidifier that helps keep that mucus available.
That may reduce the chances of acquiring COVID and other respiratory illnesses. A study in Biophysical Journal discussed how a wetter respiratory tract is an important line of defense against germs. Researchers had a person breathe into a steel box, with and without a mask. The humidity that remained inside the mask helped keep the person’s respiratory tract moist, while more humidity was lost when the mask was off.
Wet or Sweaty Doesn’t Count
As summer arrives, there’s going to be a problem with masks. They’re going to get sweaty, and wet, and gross. Even if humidity is a good way to keep our respiratory tract healthy and protected, a sweaty mask doesn’t offer the same benefit. The sweat can contribute to “maskne” and really make things uncomfortable for the wearer. It may also cause reactions like dizziness and a racing heart due to a rising body temperature.
The Biggest Problem With Summer and Masks
In the same way that masks trap moisture, they also trap heat. That can mean we can’t breathe to cool off as easily as we normally do. When we’re outdoors in a hot environment, which could lead to overheating. Actions that may help include sitting in the shade, drinking water and removing the mask for a few minutes — just make sure to stay at least six feet from others.
How to Reduce Moist Mask Issues
Masks come in different materials, and it’s important to pick one that’s breathable to reduce the risk of getting overheated or having to wear a wet or sweaty mask. Cotton is both breathable and effective.
It’s also a good idea to stay out of extreme heat and avoid big crowds where the temperature of collective bodies might add to the discomfort. By wearing a mask correctly and planning to avoid outdoor activities during the hottest part of the day, we can reduce moist, sweaty mask issues.
For anyone who has to be outdoors when it’s hot or who works in a warm environment where sweating is a problem, bringing a spare mask may also help. That way, it can be changed for a clean one if it gets too damp or uncomfortable, and we can all breathe a little easier.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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