It's no secret that wearing a mask in the heat of summer can be uncomfortable.
Blistering heat can discourage some people from wearing masks, but it's important to continue wearing them. They are still one of the best ways to prevent coronavirus infection, especially when you are unable to maintain social distance.
Here are some easy ways you can wear a mask in summer.
Choose a Mask for Hot Weather
Selecting the right mask for the heat is an important part of being comfortable. For a cloth face mask to be effective, it needs multiple layers of fabric to create a barrier between your nose and mouth and the environment around you. Unfortunately, this can increase the amount of heat trapped beneath the mask.
Much like with clothing, choosing the right fabric can make a huge difference. For example, polyester masks trap heat, which can feel stifling in hot weather. However, it is a mask myth that carbon dioxide can build up beneath a mask and make you sick.
Breathable Cotton Masks
Masks should always be made of densely woven fabrics for maximum effectiveness, but some fabrics that fall into this category, such as 100 percent cotton, still manage to be breathable.
Cotton is highly durable and known for breathability, helping you stay cool in a mask. Cotton is also a softer fabric, lowering the likelihood of chafing or skin inflammation that some sensitive-skinned individuals can experience from wearing a mask in summer.
Wash Your Mask Frequently
Keeping your mask clean is an important part of maintaining its effectiveness, especially in hot weather. Different types of masks have different cleaning requirements, with some being disposable.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reusable cloth masks should be washed after every wear. Be sure to wash your hands after touching the outside of the face covering.
Take a Break
If you are running errands and wearing a mask in the heat, you may find yourself short of breath. Take a break when this happens and allow yourself to catch your breath.
If you have an underlying condition that makes it harder to breathe like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), there are steps you can take to make wearing a mask more comfortable. If possible, try to stay at home more. While masks are highly effective, social distancing is still one of the best ways to prevent coronavirus transmission.
Bring a Spare Mask
Even wearing a breathable mask in summer can make you sweat, sometimes soaking into the mask and making it damp.
This compromises the effectiveness of the mask and can make them uncomfortable to wear. It can also lead to irritation for those with sensitive skin and even acne for some. This is especially true is you are wearing a mask while exercising.
If you find your mask regularly getting sweaty, be sure to always have a spare on hand. This is a good best practice no matter what the season and is part of being prepared for going out in public during the pandemic.
Protect Yourself From Hot Weather
When wearing a mask in hot weather, you should take all of the usual precautions that you would normally take for preventing heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke or severe dehydration.
Try to plan ahead and avoid going out during the hottest part of the day. Seek shade when you are beginning to feel overheated. Drinking a lot of water can help you stay hydrated and compensate for some extra sweating you might do while wearing a mask.