CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It’s a story you may have heard before. In Missouri, upwards of 140 clients were exposed to COVID-19 when two infected stylists interacted with them at a local Great Clips. Not one was infected. Why? Because of the salon’s mandatory mask requirement. It’s been proven that wearing a face-covering greatly reduces the probability of infection from coronavirus, the disease that causes COVID-19. Outside of staying home, experts generally agree that covering your nose and mouth is one of the best ways to prevent the virus from spreading. With temperatures warming up across the Northern Hemisphere, however, there are some new challenges to wearing this potentially life-saving article.
A tragedy in China
In China, two 14-year-old boys died within a week from one another. The cause of death wasn’t COVID-19, but instead was likely due to wearing a mask, the thing that was supposed to protect them. According to the father of one of the boys, his child was in the middle of a conditioning test when he suddenly fell backward and his head hit the pavement. No autopsy was done on either child, and while the cause of death is unknown, the father is convinced that the combination of physical activity while wearing the mask likely had some effect on his son’s death. “It was sunny and their PE class was in the afternoon when it was at least 20ºC (70ºF). It couldn’t have been comfortable running.” The school has now cancelled all long-distance running activities and is allowing students to take breaks with their masks off.
How to stay comfortable while wearing a mask
With summer just around the corner, temperatures will consistently break the 90º mark over the next several months. As people head outdoors to exercise, walk their furry friends, or just enjoy the sunshine, masks can make everyday activity unpleasant. Here’s how you can make things more comfortable while protecting yourself and others when in public.
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Wear a 100% cotton mask
Have you ever slept on a bed with sheets or a comforter that wasn’t made from cotton? If you have, you’ve likely woken up in the middle of the night in a pool of sweat. Non-cotton material is often less “breathable” or makes it harder for air to come in and out. This makes it easier for heat to stay trapped inside of your mask or face-covering, which will make you lose more water through sweat and makes you downright uncomfortable. On top of this, breakouts around your nose and face, pejoratively known as “maskne” may also become a problem. Listen to local beauty expert Kelly Coulter for more on how to avoid this.
Try to only cover your face and mouth
As obvious as this may seem, the more you cover your body in fabric, the hotter it will get! While covering a larger surface area of your face and head may increase protection from infection to some degree, the real key is to make sure your nose and mouth are covered. A simple painter’s mask or N95 mask usually takes care of this. While bandanas and scarves also cover your nasal and oral cavities, they also cover areas, such as your cheeks and neck, that could cause you to overheat.
Make sure your mask fits
Believe it or not, how your mask fits on your face not only affects how comfortable you are, but also how warm you can get. A recent study found that subjects who wore masks overheated significantly quicker than those who wore masks that were loose or “snug.” If you find yourself with a mask that’s too tight, you can “break-in” the band that goes around your ears or the back of your head by stretching it out with your hands. While you don’t want a mask that is too loose, make sure that the mask isn’t squeezing your face too hard.
While it is important to wear your mask while out in public as much as possible, it is also imperative that you take breaks if you ever feel yourself becoming uncomfortable. The last thing anyone needs is for someone to go to the hospital when they aren’t infected with COVID-19. If possible, try to stay out of the sun while wearing your mask. If you get to a point where your covering needs to come off, make sure that you maintain a six-foot distance from other people when removing your mask.