The reason you should have a backup face mask in hot weather

As warm weather approaches and the coronavirus pandemic continues, wearing a face mask is starting to get a bit uncomfortable. Temperatures are rising and many of us are turning to lighter clothes and fewer layers, but it looks like we’ll need to be wearing face masks for the foreseeable future.

If you’re going to be out and about on a hot day, you may find that your mask gets a little damp from sweat. Carrying a backup mask — or a few —  can not only help you stay comfortable by letting you swap your mask for a fresh, dry one as needed, but can also help you protect your skin. Associate dermatology professor Carrie L. Kovarik told the The Philadelphia Inquirer that when masks get damp, they can damage your skin. “In hot weather, you will have a lot of moisture under there, and the skin can break down a little more,” she said. “Moisture from breath or heat builds up, and you can get a rash.”

Face masks are also less effective when they get damp, as Dr. Shan Soe-Lin told The New York Times. Studies show that even an accumulation of exhaled moisture on your mask can make it less efficient (per Nursing Times), providing yet more incentive to swap out a wet face mask.

Here's how to make wearing a face mask in hot weather more comfortable

While wearing a face mask on a hot day may not be the most comfortable thing in the world, there are ways to diminish discomfort. Nicole Jochym, a medical student who works to provide people with homemade masks through Sew Face Masks Philadelphia, told the The Philadelphia Inquirer that it’s best to wear masks made from cotton. Cotton is more breathable than synthetic fibers and can therefore help to make for more comfortable masks. Jochym also said to avoid filters, as these are created from synthetic materials and can make it hotter under your mask.

Kovarik and Jochym both recommended wearing masks with adjustable ties, as “elastic straps can be irritating behind the ear.” Adjustable ties also help you to keep the mask snug on your face, but allow for more breathing room as you can create a more customized fit. 

In addition to changing your face mask when it gets damp, you should remember to wash your face mask daily.

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