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Masks Can Protect You from Allergies

Cloth or disposable facemasks have proven effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and the flu. Wearing a mask can also help protect you from seasonal allergens that are floating in the air.

The sky and pollen

What causes seasonal allergies?

Pollens from flowering plants, trees, grass and weeds can cause seasonal allergy symptoms.

Woman and child wearing masks to protect from allergies

Can masks reduce allergy symptoms?

Disposable surgical masks and multilayer cloth masks can help decrease nasal discharge, congestion, sneezing and itchy nose, by filtering out pollen and other allergens that are in the air.

Two masks, one with heart pattern

Can masks catch allergens?

Disposable surgical masks, multilayered cloth masks made of tightly fabric and layered cloth masks with a filter between layers can catch pollen and pet dander particles.

Close up of pollen particle

How big are allergen particles?

Pollens are often 10 times bigger than bacteria, and bacteria are 10 times bigger than virus particles. Surgical and cloth masks are effective at stopping viruses and bacteria, so they can stop pollens too.

Wildfire and smoke

Can masks protect lungs from wildfire smoke?

No, neither surgical or cloth masks can protect lungs from wildfire smoke particles are too small for these types of masks to catch.

Man blowing his nose

Do masks reduce allergy symptoms?

Wearing a mask can decrease nasal discharge, congestion, sneezing and itchy nose.

Blooming tree

How do allergens affect the immune system?

When pollen or other allergens are breathed in, it causes the immune system to overreact and cause runny nose, watery or itchy eyes, sneezing, congestion and other symptoms.

Woman removing her mask

Do you remove mask properly?

Don’t touch the outside of the mask when removing it. Remove a mask by the loops to prevent touching the pollen on the outside of the mask.

Mask coming out of a dryer

Why keep your mask clean?

Pollen can build up on masks that are worn outside. Wash cloth mask after wearing it outside. Recycle disposable surgical masks after each use.

This information has been reviewed and approved by Jessica Hui, MD (June 2021)