Nearly 10-20% of the general population suffer from allergic rhinitis or allergic asthma. In order to alleviate symptoms, doctors have prescribed the use of face masks on high pollen days or when one is doing yard work. Face masks prevent allergens, particles that cause allergic reactions, from entering the nose and the mouth. The widespread adoption of face masks to prevent COVID-19 have allowed doctors and scientists to study the impact of face masks for those suffering from allergies. Since everyone is required to wear a mask in public, they have found that there is a reduction in the severity of symptoms from outdoor allergens.
What happens when you have an allergic reaction?
Your immune system is responsible for protecting the body from outside intruders and fighting back when intruders are detected. There are several ways outside intruders can enter the body, those include the mouth and nose. Allergens, or tiny airborne particles such as dust, mold, animal dander, or pollen, can enter your airways when you breathe. These particles are foreign to your body and your body may or may not react to these particles. If your body over-reacts to a harmless substance, it will release chemicals and histamines that cause an allergic reaction. Those inflammatory responses include runny noses, sneezing, coughing, etc. Larger amounts of allergens can cause more severe reactions.
Can wearing a mask reduce my allergy symptoms?
A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology where a group of nurses with allergic rhinitis is monitored for their symptoms during COVID-19. The researchers found that wearing a surgical mask or an N95 drastically reduced allergy symptoms. Additionally, Dr. Sayantani Sindher, at Stanford University School of Medicine said there was a decrease in allergy symptom severity when masks are worn.
Many doctors and scientists expected this outcome since most allergen particles are larger than viral particles. Masks touted to protect us from the virus would also stop allergen particles from entering your airways. For example, a pine tree pollen is 800 times bigger than the coronavirus particle.
Keep in mind that people generally don’t wear masks when they’re indoors. More time spent indoors means increased exposure towards indoor allergens such as dander from pets, dust, and mold. Thorough cleaning and good air filtration systems can reduce the amount of allergen indoors. Additionally, allergen particles can still enter through gaps in the mask or through the mouth.
Surgical masks and N95s - the downfalls
Surgical masks or N95s use a melt-blown technology that relies on electrostatic forces to prevent the user’s contact to airborne particles by attracting and binding particles to the fibers of the mask. However, it should never come in contact with moisture, which greatly decreases the material’s filtration efficiency. Thus, a surgical mask or N95 should not be worn for more than 8 hours or disinfected with 70% ethanol.
The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology study did not find an additional decrease in symptoms when the nurses wore N95s. This could be attributed to the fact that N95s are produced with dense fibers which are hard to breathe in. N95s generate a tight seal on the user’s face, thus the user has to exert greater force to breathe. This extra force can push the N95 away from the face and break the seal, which allows allergen particles to enter the mask and cause an allergic reaction.
Long term wearing of face masks are needed to consistently avoid allergic reactions. Consequently, this can amount to a large amount of disposable masks. Face masks that could be disinfected or re-worn can reduce the amount of waste, but surgical masks and N95s are not made to be reused.
Airllo’s masks - the better option
Studies have shown that high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters have reduced allergy symptoms and asthma. HEPA filters get rid of particulate matter (PM2.5) in the air. Similarly, Airllo’s masks containing the Spyderweb™ ePTFE membrane are made of the best-in-class membrane-based HEPA technology. This material is the same type as Teflon®-based HEPA filter technology trusted by the clean room industry due to its superb reliability, performance and energy efficiency. Airllo’s masks provide a wearable HEPA filtration system to protect you from all types of airborne particles.
Surgical masks filter particles larger than 3 μm and N95 respirators filter particles that are 0.3 μm at 95% efficiency. Airllo’s masks contain the proprietary Spyderweb™ ePTFE membrane that physically block out particles larger than 0.1 μm at 99% filtration efficiency.
Our proprietary Spyderweb™ ePTFE membrane filter is less than 0.0003 mm in thickness. It utilizes millions of tiny pores to allow ample air to pass through while blocking out harmful particles with high efficiency. Airllo masks are one of the thinnest mask options on the market and are extremely breathable and comfortable for long-term wear.
With the correct sizing, Airllo masks can create a seal on your face and prevent allergen particles from entering. In contrast, surgical masks are not designed to fit snugly around your nose and mouth so allergens can enter through the gaps. Compared to N95s, less force is needed for the user to breathe with an Airllo mask, thus a seal can be maintained more easily.
Additionally, Airllo’s proprietary Spyderweb™ ePTFE membrane is highly durable and does not deteriorate when 70% ethanol is sprayed on the mask for disinfection. The mask can also be washed with soap and water.
In terms of filtration efficiency, comfort, and reusability - Airllo masks are the best option for your allergies.