Can wearing a mask reduce allergy symptoms?

It’s fall, meaning it’s ragweed season. Even those who don’t suffer from seasonal allergies can fall victim to the high pollen count.

AUSTIN, Texas — It’s fall, and the season, as most of us might know, comes with allergies.  

Some of us eagerly await this time of the year for the pumpkin spice drinks and cooler weather. Others remember it because it’s pollen season, something Ausitn resident Owen Moorhead is no stranger to.  

“I’ve lived in Austin all my life,” he said. “I had seasonal allergies from about the time I was maybe eight or nine years old on, and it was the most miserable experience.”

It’s October, ragweed is the main allergy culprit in Central Texas. 

“Fall is the worst time,” said Moorhead.

Dr. Dagoberto Balderas of Balderas Family Medicine in Austin said anyone can fall victim to ragweed. 

“Even patients without allergies can suffer just because of the sheer volume of pollen counts that occur,” Balderas said. 

But if they don’t suffer from allergies regularly, it can easily be mistaken. 

Now that we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and many are still wearing masks, KVUE asked Dr. Balderas if wearing face coverings can help. 

“The answer is yes, they’ll help,” he affirms. 

He also said there’s more to it than just that. 

“Managing allergy symptoms requires much more than just wearing a mask just because the allergies are going to get stuck to everything, including your hair, your clothes,” he said. 

So, while facemasks do help, Balderas says the pollen and microscopic particles will still find a way to enter your home.  

“You may think you’re allergic to the pet when, in fact, you’re just allergic to the pollen that stuck to them, just like they would get stuck to yours or mine,” Balderas added. 

So, if you suffer from severe allergies like Moorhead, try to avoid what he couldn’t as a kid.

“It didn’t help that I like to be outside, and I like to explore,” Moorhead said. “You run into ragweed more often if you go outside and play in the creek.”

If you do go out, here’s a tip: Pack extra tissues. 

“There were days when I would run out of Kleenex and I would have to use my shirt, and I would get my shirt all gross with snot,” Moorhead added. 

A couple of tips from Dr. Balderas: 

  • Wash your hair and clothes upon going inside. 
  • Use nasal salines to flush out sinuses. 
  • Take allergy medicine like Allegra or Claritin to help alleviate allergy symptoms.

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