Wearing a mask during summer Covid-19

Do you have a face mask? Very good. Properly wearing a mask to cover the nose and mouth and respecting the social distancing whenever we go out in public can help slow the virus COVID-19.

Does wearing a mask annoy you? Of course it does. There is no specific pleasure in it. Especially now, during the hot, humid, sweaty summer period. But with the increasing of new cases in July, we still need to keep up the effort and remain responsible. This simple act can save lives, including yours and your loved ones.

Moreover, experts say it is not the time to let a little discomfort put you and others at risk for this serious and often fatal disease.

Luckily there are some strategies to help make masking up more bearable in hot weather. Here are a few tips for you to wear a mask safely in the best conditions:


Opt for a light colour

During a hot period, it is often advisable to wear light clothes rather than dark clothes. This advice is also applicable when wearing a mask.  “You want to wear a mask that is light in colour because dark colours will get hotter, faster, [drawing] the sun to you,” said Dr. Anne Rimoin, professor of infectious diseases, to ABC11.


Cotton masks, a preferable cloth

Experts say cotton masks may be the most comfortable because they absorb sweat. When leaving the house, take a few extra face coverings to avoid skin irritation from wearing a mask too long.

“How well you can breathe through a material is as important as how well it stops the spread of the disease,” Rimoin said.

A study found that one layer of T-shirt material blocks about 40% of water droplets mixed with fluorescent particles that mimicked the coronavirus’s size, while adding a second layer increased blockage to 98%, according to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers.


Bamboo masks for high heat

“For high heat (outdoor setting), I suggest to wear a double-layer face mask made of bamboo fabric if you are planning to go out walking or jogging, but have no plans to engage in conversation with other folks,” Gerardo Chowell, professor of epidemiology with Georgia State University’s School of Public Health, tells BuzzFeed. “If you are planning to go out to the park and engage in conversation with others, I’d recommend a face mask made of nonwoven fabric which offers greater protection. However, these are less comfortable and more difficult to find.”


Check the fit

Your mask should be comfortable and easy to breathe through. Carrie L. Kovarik, an associate professor of dermatology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, recommends to try out different masks, or use one with adjustable ties.

“A tie mask probably would be better. Elastic straps can be irritating behind the ear,” she says. “Don’t put it on so tight that you can’t breathe.”

Breathing through the nose generates less heat

Another element: the way of breathing. “Prefer breathing through the nose with the mouth closed when wearing a mask,” advises the Robert-Sauvé Research Institute in Occupational Health and Safety (IRSST), a Quebec organization. Breathing through the nose “generates less heat and humidity which will be retained in the mask.” However, this advice is not valid during physical effort, during which wearing a mask is not recommended. “It is only possible to preserve nasal breathing during weak to moderate effort,” admits the institute.

Not recommended when exercising

According to World Health Organization (WHO), “people should not wear a mask when exercising as masks may reduce the ability to breathe comfortably. The important preventive measure during exercise is to maintain physical distance of at least one meter for others.”


Bring spares masks with you

“Sweat can make the mask become wet more quickly which makes it difficult to breathe and promotes the growth of microorganisms” says the World Health Orgization.

It is not necessary to keep your mask once it is wet, due to rain or sweat. “A mask, when wet, is no longer effective,” assured Dr Benjamin Davido, infectious disease specialist at the Robert Poincaré hospital in Garches.

This implies using several masks during the day. If they are not disposable, “it is useful to provide two containers to separate clean masks from used masks”, reminds the Occupational Health and Safety Research Institute IRSST.