Anti-Covid masks, from a side effect of the pandemic, to a potential resource to keep seasonal allergies at bay and beyond. This was demonstrated by a research conducted in 13 allergology centers of the Association of Italian hospital allergists and immunologists (Aaiito), assisted by environmental data Arpac Campania, which studied 291 patients to understand how much the mask protected them from allergic symptoms, comparing the symptoms of 2020, in full lockdown, with those of 2019. The results show “an important protective effect, such as to suggest its adoption in the periods with the greatest circulation of viruses and the presence of seasonal allergies”, underlines Aaiito.
“291 patients with an exclusive allergy to spring pollen were examined in the various centers of the Campania region – explains Gennaro Liccardi, Tor Vergata University of Rome and Irccs Sdn-Synlab, Naples – each of these was asked to evaluate the extent of nasal and ocular symptoms in spring 2020 (with the use of the mask) compared to the same period of 2019 (without mask) as well as the average number of hours per day during which the masks were worn. Since the severity of nasal symptoms also depends on the number of pollen and the level of environmental pollutants present in the observation period, we received these essential data from Arpac, the regional agency for environmental protection in Campania ”.
Despite the fact that in spring 2020, patients wore handmade masks, especially of washable cloth, due to the known lack of professional ones “(surgical, N95, Ffp22),” the results of the study showed that the use of these devices significantly improved nasal symptoms (sneezing, runny nose, stuffy nose) of pollen allergic rhinitis compared to the previous spring – the research reports – A further finding was that these improvements were all the more evident the more prolonged was the use of masks outside the home . As far as eye symptoms are concerned, as expected, they have not undergone any changes since the patients did not wear eye protection devices “
“The data provided by ARPAC – continues Liccardi – certified that the levels of pollen and environmental pollutants (CO, NO, NO2, O3, PM10 and PM2.5) had not changed in the course of spring 2020 compared to that of 2019. In other words, the improvement in symptoms reported by our patients could not be attributed to a lowering of pollen or pollutant levels. The described study was accepted by the international journal ‘Rhinology’. Although the result of the study may seem obvious to non-experts, in reality it is the first scientific demonstration that certifies – he observes – in a population of allergic subjects, the usefulness of wearing a mask to prevent nasal symptoms especially in the months of intense pollination “.
“Obviously these findings should not be interpreted as ‘alternative’ to the therapeutic measures envisaged for allergic rhino-conjunctivitis both for the impossibility of using the mask throughout the 24 hours and for the lack of prevention on the eyes – highlights Aaiito – Unlike allergy to dust mites, molds and animal epithelia in which precise preventive rules are provided (use of vacuum cleaners, air purifiers, mattress covers and pillow covers) to reduce the inhalation of allergens, little or nothing it is possible to do to prevent the inhalation of pollen except to close hermetically in the house all day. Certainly the use of masks is not free from annoyances such as the feeling of not breathing well, sweating, redness from contact, but their use it is essential for the reduction of the risk of contagion from Sars Cov-2 and it is likely that this need cannot be avoided immediately and, hopefully, not n must be resumed for possible (and, it seems, likely) future pandemics “.