6 Tips for Wearing a Face Mask This Summer - Virtua Health, NJ

6 Tips for Wearing a Face Mask This Summer

By – Family Medicine Physician
Virtua Primary Care—Cherry Hill at Route 70 East

Jersey summers bring heat, humidity, sweat—and this year—face masks on top of it all. Even with social distancing guidelines still in place, to protect against the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends face coverings for all people age 2 and older who don’t have trouble breathing.

This leaves many asking—can you stay safe and comfortable at the same time?

These tips can help keep you safe and cool.

Pick a mask made of a breathable material.

Wearing a mask can make you feel like you’re suffocating. That’s because the air you exhale is at your body temperature, about 98 degrees Fahrenheit. But, with a mask covering your mouth and nose, heat gets trapped inside. If you can’t breathe easily through your mask, and you’re wearing it outside on a hot day, you could overheat.

Choose a mask made from a breathable fabric like 100-percent cotton. A mask made from an old T-shirt or woven cotton sheets would work. Avoid synthetic fabrics like polyester, as well as mask filters, which can make your mask hotter and harder to breathe through.

When choosing your style, pick lighter colors that reflect sunlight, rather than darker colors that absorb heat.

Make sure your mask fits snugly, but not too tight.

Your mask should cover your nose and mouth. It also should fit snugly against the sides of your face, but loosely in front of your nose and mouth so it doesn't restrict your breathing. If you’re bothered by ear loops, try a mask that has adjustable ties or straps.

If your mask isn’t comfortable enough to keep on your face, chances are you won’t wear it for long, leaving yourself and others unprotected.

Carry more than one mask.

Cloth masks can easily become damp with sweat. A wet mask can stick to your face and obstruct your breathing. Carry extra masks in a plastic sandwich bag to keep them clean and dry.

Wash your cloth masks as often as possible. If you’re wearing a disposable mask, throw it away if it becomes damp or soiled.

Take time to breathe easy.

The CDC recommends wearing a cloth mask in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as stores and crowds (like on the boardwalk).

But, if you’re sitting outside by yourself on the porch or are in the car, you probably don’t need a mask. When you’re picking up food at the drive-thru and will be within six feet of someone else, put your mask on.

Likewise, if you’re running or walking alone in your neighborhood, you can leave your mask at home. If you’re weaving in and out of a crowd and can’t maintain a safe distance, wear your mask.

If you have a job that requires you to wear a mask all day, take breaks where you can go off by yourself and remove it. Be sure to wash your hands and avoid touching the front of the mask.  

Care for your skin.

Heat and humidity can cause moisture to build up under your mask, irritating your skin. To ease this irritation, apply a moisturizer that doesn’t clog your pores.

Wait to go outside.

If you’re particularly sensitive to the heat and are afraid you’ll have trouble breathing through your mask, go outside first thing in the morning or later in the day when it’s cooler.

Your health and safety are our highest priorities. We’ve implemented special infection prevention and social distancing protocols to keep you safe in our hospitals and offices. To make an appointment with one of our physicians, call 888-847-8823.

Updated June 17, 2020

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