While not effective for all allergy triggers or symptoms, face masks are able to filter out many of the allergens that you’re exposed to.

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Face masks have been widely available in the Western world since the COVID-19 pandemic, and many people have continued to wear them when they’re ill and need to go in public.

New research has shown that masks aren’t just a helpful way to protect yourself from COVID-19 and other infections. They can also help reduce allergies by blocking allergen particles.

You might see benefits from wearing masks if you have pollen, mold, dust, pet, and other allergies.

Research has suggested that face masks can help reduce some allergy symptoms. Pollen particles range in size from 10 to 100 millimeters (mm). Standard surgical masks block particles as small as 3 mm.

N95 masks, as well as other medical masks, can block particles as small as .004 mm. That means that the standard masks that have been widely available since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic can block pollen particles.

Masks can also block many other common allergens. For instance, mold particles typically range between 3 and 13 mm, mold spore particles range between 10 and 30 mm, and dust mite particles range between 100 and 300 mm.

Although some common allergens can have smaller particles, such as pet dander, which has particles that range in size from .5–100 mm, masks will still block most particles.

But masks don’t protect against all allergy symptoms. For instance, there’s no evidence to suggest they provide benefits for people with eye allergies.

All masks can provide some relief from allergies. Even cloth masks can help block some particles and can reduce symptoms. But surgical masks are the best option for many people.

Surgical masks are proven effective at filtering for allergens. They’re also widely available and can be disposed of after each use. This ensures you’re always wearing a clean mask that’s free of any allergen-build-up.

Masks can protect you from infections such as COVID-19 and from allergens. Wearing a mask can also offer benefits such as:

  • Blocking pollution: Masks can help filter out smoke, smog, and other air pollutants. Experts associate long-term exposure to air pollutants with multiple negative health effects. Reducing the pollution you breathe can help reduce these health risks.
  • Reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke: Research has shown that mask wearing might reduce the risk of heart health concerns such as heart attack and stroke. This is because infections can increase the risk of these heart conditions, so taking steps to prevent infections, such as mask wearing, can help protect your heart.
  • Protecting people who are immunocompromised: People with compromised immune systems benefit from mask wearing because it reduces exposure to bacteria, viruses, and other potentially harmful toxins. This can make wearing a mask a good idea year round, even if there’s not an outbreak in your area.
  • Preventing the spread of germs to others: You can carry bacteria and other toxins without them making you ill. However, children, people with compromised immune systems, people who already fighting infections, and others, could get ill if you pass the toxin to them. Masks can prevent this and help keep your community safe.

Other alternative allergy treatments

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Face masks can help block the particles and triggers that cause irritation and allergy symptoms.

Masks provide enough protection to block common allergens, including pollen, dust mites, and mold. However, they’re not an effective choice for all seasonal or other allergies.

Any mask can help reduce allergy symptoms, but surgical masks are often the best choice. Talk with your doctor to check whether they think that routinely wearing face masks may help reduce your symptoms.