Masks may trigger symptoms of hayfever such as sneezing and itchy nose

Masks may trigger symptoms of hayfever such as sneezing and itchy nose

06/04/2022

Covid masks may trigger symptoms of hayfever such as sneezing and itchy nose

  • FFP2 masks are found to shed plastic fibres up to a tenth of an inch in length 
  • Researchers flushed out the noses of the 46 people with allergic symptoms
  • Scientists found an average of almost four plastic fibres in each person’s nose

Masks worn to protect against coronavirus could cause hayfever- like symptoms.

Doctors in Germany have reported cases of 46 people with symptoms such as sneezing and an itchy and runny nose after wearing an FFP2 mask.

The masks, which are the gold standard for blocking Covid particles and are sold widely in the UK, have also been found to shed plastic fibres up to a tenth of an inch (3mm) in length, which are found in people’s noses.

For all but a tiny minority, the masks will cause no problems, with thousands having worn them during the pandemic in Germany, and only a few dozen reporting symptoms.

Doctors in Germany have reported cases of 46 people with symptoms such as sneezing and an itchy and runny nose after wearing an FFP2 mask

But when researchers flushed out the noses of the 46 people with allergic symptoms in Germany, they found an average of almost four plastic fibres per person.

In some cases, people suffered symptoms such as a runny and blocked nose or sneezing within two hours of wearing an FFP2 mask. Their symptoms typically got much better after three days of not wearing the mask.

Dr Jan Hagemann, senior author of a research paper reporting the phenomenon, said: ‘These results do not suggest people should not wear masks.

‘The symptoms linked to FFP2 masks are more likely to be irritating than to cause an ongoing problem.

For all but a tiny minority, the masks will cause no problems, with thousands having worn them during the pandemic in Germany, and only a few dozen reporting symptoms

‘But for people who have suffered nasal irritation after wearing these masks, this may provide a reassuring explanation.

‘It is potentially a harmless reaction which may be reduced if they try another type of FFP2 mask or a cloth version.’

The study, conducted at the start of the pandemic and published in the World Allergy Organisation Journal, looked at 24 women and 22 men who had sought help from a GP or ear, nose and throat specialist for hayfever-like symptoms they thought were caused by FFP2 masks.

The patients included 17 healthcare workers who wore masks during their working day.

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