As the coronavirus pandemic continues to challenge the world’s population to rethink everyday behaviors, it seems likely people will continue to practice both social distancing and the use of a cloth face mask throughout the summer. (Cloth masks can’t stop infectious particles from entering the nose and mouth, but they can reduce the spread of respiratory droplets by wearers.)
Once tolerable, these masks might grow to be uncomfortable as temperatures rise and the fabric begins to trap heat. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to minimize discomfort.
According to health experts who spoke to writer Nick Vadala of The Philadelphia Inquirer, the best strategy for a heat-friendly face mask is to opt for a 100 percent cotton fabric. Polyester and other synthetic materials can trap heat, causing wearers to build up sweat and moisture around their face quickly.
You’ll want to avoid any kind of filter, which are also synthetic and make breathing more difficult.
Snug masks can also be harder to tolerate when it’s warm out. To adjust the fit, it’s better to use a mask that has ties rather than elastic straps, which can irritate the ears.
The biggest adjustment wearers may have to make in adhering to mask recommendations in the summer is to carry more than one. As masks get damp from sweat, they’ll need to be switched out for a dry one. You’ll want to be sure to do that only after washing or sanitizing your hands and making the switch away from other people.
Despite your best efforts, skin irritation might persist. It’s a good idea to use moisturizer to heal skin affected by trapped heat and moisture.