Wearing a mask during the summer months or during exercise can increase the discomfort level, but it's necessary if you are going to be around other people outside of your household. When it's hot wearing a mask can feel stuffy and humid, but for most people it's generally not dangerous to your health. Keep in mind, being in very hot temperatures for an extended period of time with or without a mask, can put you at risk for heat-related illness.
To make wearing a mask more comfortable when it's hot, keep these tips in mind:
Choose your mask wisely. The CDC recommends using multiple layers of fabric for homemade masks, to better contain droplets that come out of your nose and mouth when you cough, sneeze and talk. Tightly woven cotton fabric is a good choice, as it's breathable and soft. If you're working directly in the sun, opt for a light-colored mask, as darker colored ones will absorb more heat.
Carry a spare. If your mask gets sweaty or damp, swap it out for a clean one. Wetness can make it even more uncomfortable.
Avoid the heat. If possible, avoid long periods of direct sun exposure if you're outdoors, and avoid heavy exertion. If at any point you feel dizzy, nauseous, lightheaded, confused, faint or breathless, it's time to get out of the heat and into an environment where you can safely remove your mask.
Stay hydrated. Wearing a mask might make you less likely to take sips of water throughout the day. But when you're sweating, you need more water than normal. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day when it is safe to remove your mask for a sip.
Take breaks. Schedule time to take off your mask for a few minutes if it can be done safely and away from others.
Dress the part. Choose lightweight, loose-fitting clothes in hot weather or when you exercise.
Wash your masks after each use. Some germs thrive in warm, damp conditions like those created by a sweaty mask. The CDC recommends washing your masks along with your regular laundry using detergent and the warmest water setting, or by hand with a bleach solution. Dry them completely in your dryer or by laying them flat, preferably in direct sunlight.
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