8 Side-Effects of Wearing Face Masks and How To Fix Them

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Wearing face masks has become the new normal, and considering the fact that they play a role in reducing the spread of the coronavirus, it is likely that we’re going to be wearing them for quite some time.

Now while the use of face masks is an important precaution, the masks can also cause unwanted side effects and this has made wearing the masks almost unbearable. However, you’ll soon find out that you can still properly protect yourself and those all around you by wearing a face mask all while preventing the uncomfortable side effects that come with their use.

1. Skin irritation

Wearing a face mask can cause a build-up of sweat, oil, and dirt and this can cause skin concerns such as rashes, redness, dryness, and even maskne (mask-related acne). Additionally, a 2020 study published in the Journal of Wound Care found that the tight facial fit from wearing N-95 respirator masks places pressure on the skin, and, depending on the mask wearer’s skin condition, this can exacerbate skin irritation.

How to fix it

Firstly, the material your mask is made out of may contribute to irritation. It’s best to wear a mask made out of cotton, as opposed to synthetic fabric, as this material is much more breathable.

Secondly, if you have sensitive skin and are prone to irritation, it would be advisable to moisturize your skin at least 30 minutes before you put on your mask. You may also want to opt-out of wearing makeup under your mask.

Lastly, don’t forget to wash your mask after every use as it accumulates oil, sweat, and dirt throughout the day and continuously exposing your skin to that is a recipe for disaster. 8 Side-Effects Of Wearing Face Masks And How To Fix Them

2. Poor oral health

Mouth sores

Have you noticed acne flares around the mouth area? You have your mask to blame for that. Speaking to WellandGood, dermatologist Dr. Maggie Kober revealed that the environment under your mask is the perfect breeding ground for breakouts,

For many others, this warm moist environment surrounding skin creates the perfect condition for naturally occurring yeast and bacteria to flourish and grow more abundant.” she explains, “This overgrowth of yeast and bacteria can produce angular cheilitis, the cracking and sores at the corner of the mouth.”

The risk is even higher if your lips are always dry as the constant licking of them results in moisture and saliva getting trapped in the corners of your mouth, and becoming a viable breeding ground for yeast.

How do I fix it?

It’s important to keep your lips moisturized, even if they’re hidden under a mask and a great product to try would be the Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Moisturizing Lip Balm.

Mouth breath

You may notice, or rather smell, that your breath is a little stronger than usual as of late. The truth is your breath only smells stronger because you’re wearing a mask and thus the air you’re exhaling is now hovering over your nose more often than usual. If you’re really worried ab

If it smells bad, how do I fix it?

It’s important to practice proper dental hygiene. In addition to brushing your teeth, don’t forget to brush your tongues and the inside of your cheeks as well as flossing, and even using a bacteria-killing mouthwash. If the stench persists, this may be a sign of gum disease so it’s important to reach out to your dentist.

3. Breathlessness

8 Side-Effects Of Wearing Face Masks And How To Fix ThemIt can be hard to breathe in face masks, especially if you’re living in a hot and humid climate. Additionally, if you have chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) such as asthma and bronchitis, you may be battling even more.

How do I fix it?

Wear a mask made out of breathable material like cotton. You can also spend time at home practicing so that you can get used to the sensation of wearing masks. Additionally, if you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stay home because you’re more at risk of complications if you do contract COVID-19.

4. Sight discomfort

When you exhale air while wearing a mask, the air has no choice but to travel upwards towards your eyes. Of course, this then triggers discomfort and you get the urge to rub your eyes (1). Unfortunately, we all know that one way to curb the spread of the virus is by not touching our faces.

Considering the fact that we touch our faces 15 to 23 times per hour on average, an itchy eye may force us to touch our faces even more regularly.

How do I fix it?

As mentioned, breathable material such as cotton is what your face mask should be made out of. It will provide better ventilation and prevent the build-up of sweat. It’s also best to wash your hands regularly with soap for 20 seconds after coming into contact with substances like door handles, elevator buttons, and packages.

5. It fogs up your glasses

As mentioned, when you exhale while wearing a mask, it shoots upwards towards your eyes and if you’re wearing glasses, it fogs them up. 8 Side-Effects Of Wearing Face Masks And How To Fix Them

How do I fix it?

Wash your glasses in soapy water and allow them to air dry. The soap will leave a thin layer that helps to prevent fog.
You could also tape your mask down around the bridge of your nose and to your cheeks with sports or medical tape.

6. They’re harming the environment

Research has shown that the reason sea turtles are attracted to plastic waste is because it smells like their food. With the rapid rise in the usage of single-use plastic gloves and face masks,there are worries about their environmental impact.

How do I fix it?

Opt for reusable, cotton masks rather than disposable masks. Also, as opposed to wearing single-use plastic gloves, keep a hand sanitizer close by and practice regular hand washing.

7. They can force you to lean in

Face masks aren’t the best tools for conversation as they compromise the quality and the volume of speech. This then unconsciously forces people to move in closer so that they can be heard better.

How do I fix it?

Learn how to project your voice as you should always stay six feet away from someone when talking to them.

8. They Foster a False Sense of Security

Unfortunately, a lot of people assume that by wearing face masks, they’re exempt from practicing other preventative measures when it comes to protecting themselves against COVID-19. This could not be further from the truth. Yes, face masks can help to curb the rate of transmission, but not on their own.

face mask - 8 Side-Effects Of Wearing Face Masks And How To Fix ThemHow do I fix it?

Follow the CDC’s recommended guidelines that include: 

  • Regularly washing your hands
  • Practicing social distancing
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Always covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or using the inside of your elbow and not spitting.

References

Gefen A, Alves P, Ciprandi G et al. (2020). Device related pressure ulcers: SECURE prevention. J Wound Care, 29(Sup2a): S1–S52, https://doi.org/10.12968/jowc.2020.29.Sup2a.S1

Nicas, M., & Best, D. (2008). A study quantifying the hand-to-face contact rate and its potential application to predicting respiratory tract infection. Journal of occupational and environmental hygiene5(6), 347–352. https://doi.org/10.1080/15459620802003896

Pfaller, J.B. et al. (2020). Odors from marine plastic debris elicit foraging behavior in sea turtles.Current Biology, Volume 30, Issue 5, R213 – R214. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.01.071

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