Coronavirus: With the heat and summer, how to manage a mask and hydroalcoholic gel?

HEALTH – The holidays are approaching and the Covid-19 epidemic raises the same questions as those encountered in the summer of 2020. How to endure the heat with a mask is one. How to use hydroalcoholic gel in full sun is another.

And we have all lived it, wearing a mask in very hot weather is hard to bear. The fresh air has less facility to reach the lungs, the respiratory muscles are stressed, as a result we are more short of breath and our body accumulates heat, notes the Japan Times.

Unfortunately, Emmanuel Macron announced it, during his trip to the Lot on Wednesday, June 2, the end of wearing the mask outdoors “will be done in a differentiated way” according to the territories and the population density and “at the national level it We will have to wait a little longer ”to be authorized to stop wearing it, although several epidemiologists question the real usefulness of this measure.

Moreover, some prefectures have already issued decrees to end the wearing of masks outdoors. “In the Alpes-Maritimes, for example, wearing a mask is no longer compulsory on the beaches. In Puy-de-Dôme, it remains compulsory in municipalities with more than 10,000 inhabitants. In Lozère, the obligation to wear it outdoors has been lifted throughout the department ”since the end of April. While waiting for the generalization of the lifting of restrictions, here are some tips for combining sanitary practices and high heat.

First of all, health professionals recommend choosing the right mask, taking into account the color and the material. So, prefer a light colored mask. “The darker a color, the more it absorbs the sun’s rays which turn into heat”, explains to West France Laurent Misery, dermatologist at the University Hospital of Brest. “With black, the absorption is the most important. White, on the other hand, reflects light and therefore does not accumulate heat, ”he continues. What applies to a T-shirt therefore logically also applies to a mask.

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The material of the mask is also decisive. For an afternoon in the sun, choose a cotton or bamboo fiber mask rather than a synthetic mask. “Cotton is not necessarily good at absorbing moisture from the skin, but it is more breathable than synthetic fibers such as polyester, which can make it warmer and make breathing more difficult”, emphasizes Nicole Jochym, a student in medicine, with the Philadelphia Inquirer. According to professor of epidemiology Gerardo Chowell, interviewed by Buzzfeed, bamboo absorbs water (and therefore sweat) much more efficiently than cotton.

Find out more about wearing a mask during a heat wave

  • Do not wear a wet mask and change it regularly

If this advice may seem trivial, it is still interesting to underline, especially when in the middle of summer, we are dripping under our mask. Breathing harder is an additional factor of contamination, as the number of droplets ejected from the mouth and nose increases. With the heat, breathing accelerates and becomes more intense, as when practicing a sports activity. The surgical mask would quickly lose its filtering capacities due to the humidity generated by hyperventilation.

Be careful, however, not to moisten the mask, because if it “is wet, the static electricity of the fibers of the fabric which stops the droplets of the postilions disappears and the droplets pass more easily”, explains the French Association for Standardization (Afnor) . The solution is to change your mask more regularly than every 4 hours, to prevent it from getting too wet due to intense breathing.

It is also not recommended to touch your face with your fingers, even to wipe off perspiration. Choose a disposable handkerchief, which you will then throw in a trash can, or use a sprayer to cool your forehead or neck. No more sharing of water bottles.

Learn more about the impact of heavy breathing on the transmission of covid-19.

  • Position your mask correctly

To avoid headaches, sweating and fog on the glasses, there are a few tips. “My bosses tie the rubber bands on the masks with string or a piece of plastic so they don’t pull their ears. It is done more and more in the hospital, to relieve pain. To remove the fog from the glasses, I advise to pinch the mask well at the level of the nose. And I clean my glasses with dishwashing liquid, maybe that also helps! ”Says Claire, an intensive care intern, who is used to wearing her mask for more than 20 hours in a row.

Since the heat is felt under the mask, the Robert-Sauvé Canadian Research Institute for Occupational Health and Safety recommends “promoting” as much as possible “breathing through the nose (closed mouth) when wearing the mask” , because it “generates less heat and humidity”.

Find out more about the advice given by “mask regulars”

  • Choose the right gel, and don’t abuse it

Avoid homemade gels made with hazardous ingredients at all costs. “Prefer products designed by hand hygiene manufacturers with optimal cosmetic properties”, advises Pierre Parneix, public health doctor in Bordeaux.

Also watch out for scented gels. “It all depends on the product used. If it is a gel with a certified formula, there should be no particular concerns. Now, I have had the opportunity to see perfumed or ‘original’ hydroalcoholic gels, there indeed that is more of a problem. It is often more aggressive ”, estimates Isabelle Gallay, dermatologist. “It must contain only one alcohol, possibly two, at least at 60% – it is even more effective at 80 or 85% – glycerin to protect the hands, no perfume, because it irritates the hands” , she continues.

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Finally, keep in mind that in case of prolonged exposure to the sun, especially at the beach, you do not necessarily need to wash your hands with hydroalcoholic gel. “Using hydroalcoholic gel at the beach is useless: there, a priori, we do not touch any elevator button or doorknob, but only our own things and the sand”, affirms Catherine Oliverès-Ghouti, dermatologist. in Paris.

Learn more about the dangers of hydroalcoholic gel on skin exposed to the sun

  • Hydrate hands and face

Obviously, among these specific advice on the mask, you have to be all the more careful about heat in general.

Hydroalcoholic gels can dry out the skin, that’s a fact. On this point, Pierre Parneix is ​​joined by the vice-president of the Syndicat des Dermatologues, Isabelle Gallay. “The gel will add dryness to a period when the skin is sensitive. However, it is enough to hydrate the skin a little more, even more during exposure to the sun ”, she explains to LCI.

Thus, among the Japanese experts warning about the risks incurred by the mask and heat association, Yasufumi Miyake, who works at the Teikyo University Hospital in Tokyo, reminds to cool off with air conditioning if possible, to drink water regularly and take breaks. And, of course, not to engage in strenuous physical activity with a mask on your face.

See also on The HuffPost: Is your surgical mask too big? A trick exists


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