While wearing double masks, which helps create a strong barrier against Covid-19 infection spread via airborne viral particles, has become the new normal, prolonged wearing of masks can develop hydration issues or other nagging breathing troubles, health experts said on Wednesday.
There has been enough evidence through the pandemic to show the importance of masks for effective pandemic control. At the start of the pandemic, it was seen that countries (primarily Asian nations) which enforced early masking had lesser mortality rates as compared to countries in the West where compulsory mask wearing was introduced quite late.
"Prolonged mask wearing can be associated with certain problems the most common being headaches, dehydration, acne and difficulty in breathing," Radhika Banka, Consultant Pulmonologist at P.D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC, Mumbai, told IANS.
Breathing issues are "usually seen in mouth breathers and in people with underlying respiratory problems such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)", she added.
According to Ravi Shekhar Jha, Additional Director and HOD, Pulmonology, at Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad, wearing double mask for long hours can also lead to dryness.
"It is because natural humidification of nasal mucosa gets impaired," Jha said.
There are various masks available in the market, including cloth masks, surgical masks and respirators such as N-95s.
The cloth mask has the least protection and the US Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a disposable surgical mask along with a cloth mask for additional protection. For surgical masks, the knotted technique (that is knotting the ear loops to provide better fit and prevent leakage from the sides) is recommended.
But with full vaccination rolled out in most countries, are double masks still required?
"Even after double dose vaccination, people can get breakthrough infections and can still be asymptomatic carriers and spread the infection. Hence masking is important even after double vaccination," Banka said.
The health experts stated that for people living in India, double masks become more important as vaccination of children has not yet begun in the country, and asymptomatic transmission is the highest from children. Added to this is a high population density, where social distancing is not practically possible in many cases.
Most of the countries which have made masks voluntary are those in the West with low population density, where social distancing is feasible. These countries have managed to vaccinate more than 80 per cent of their population with two doses. Also, masks in these countries are still recommended in enclosed spaces, public transports, healthcare facilities etc.
"With only 48 per cent of our population being vaccinated with one dose and 25 per cent being vaccinated with two doses, I do not think India can yet take the risk of removing the mandatory use of masks," Banka said.
However, according to Jha, "A single mask, if worn properly, is sufficient."
"People who wear double masks, have this tendency of adjusting their masks repeatedly due to breathing issues, and that way the whole purpose of wearing a mask is defeated," he said.
Jha added that for someone like a healthcare worker, who is in an area with high concentration of Covid viral droplets, an N-95 mask should be worn all the time. For other situations, a normal surgical mask (single) is sufficient.
"We need to ensure that masks are worn properly, with proper seal at nose. Improperly worn masks are more dangerous. It is also important to keep in mind that a mask alone may not protect. One needs to follow hand hygiene as well as maintain social distancing," Jha advised.
Although several countries have loosened mask restrictions citing vaccine efficacy, various studies and health experts have stressed on the need for continuing wearing masks, even after being fully vaccinated, including booster shots; and following other protective measures such as physical distancing and handwashing.
A recent study led by researchers from the Monash University and the University of Edinburgh analysed more than 30 studies from around the world and found a statistically significant 53 per cent reduction in the incidence of Covid with mask wearing, and 25 per cent reduction with physical distancing. Handwashing also indicated a substantial 53 per cent reduction in Covid incidence.
Most people are able to wear masks fairly well for a few hours, but if your job requires you to wear masks for a prolonged period, it is essential to take adequate breaks to hydrate oneself and prevent any skin problems, Banka suggested. (Agency)
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Winter is the time to bask in the sun, stroll around the lanes and devour all the great delicacies. While indulging in all these activities, parents should remember that their little ones need more protection during this season. Winter days come with a lot of smog, and when temperatures are really chilly outside. A mask is something that can protect a baby from various environmental hazards and also protect the little nose and mouth from the harsh winds during the winter season.
A mask specially designed for kids: A mask has become a clothing accessory over the last couple of years, and people tend to wear them for longer hours. When buying masks for children, the first thing for parents to understand is that the masks made for adults are not suitable for children. There are masks available on the market which are specifically designed for kids in the age group of 3-6 and for kids in the age group of 7-12 years.
Choose suitable mask material: Always look for a material that is soft enough to not irritate your child's sensitive skin. The ideal mask should have six layers of filtration, and the innermost layer is recommended to be made of soft fabric that is breathable for kids. The ear loops and noseband should be flexible and adjustable in order to fit the child's face properly and provide protection from dust, pollution, and germs.
Breathable factor: The breathable factor of a mask is important for every individual, considering the longer usage span. Children's daily routines are more active when compared to adults; they run, they play, they fight, and they enjoy being outdoors, which increases their breathing level. Thus, it becomes more important for a child to wear masks under which they can breathe properly, encouraging them to wear them for a longer period of time.
Filtration Efficiency: While considering the entire comfort factor, parents must not ignore the filtration capacity of a mask. The pandemic has added to the ongoing pollution hazard, seasonal viruses, dust, pollen, and other harmful particles in the environment, making parents more cautious while selecting the right mask for their babies. It is always important to choose a mask with at least 95 percent filtering efficiency of > 0.3 microns when releasing the child into the outdoors.While you may find many masks on the market mentioning various layers, it's important to check that the mask has layers of melt-blown filters inside to give your child effective protection against germs and pollution.
Colourful masks: The biggest challenge for parents these days is to make sure that their kids are wearing masks all the time. To make this easier, choose a mask with cheerful designs and decorations that the kids can relate to and will encourage them to wear it.
Re-usable masks: Another factor that people consider while choosing a mask is the price. The market has a range of masks that are expensive and can be used only once. The expenses are always on the higher side with a child at home, as a parent always wants the best for their baby. To balance out the budget, it is advisable to choose a re-usable mask that is re-usable at least up to 25 washes without affecting the 95 percent filtration efficiency.
With the spread of smog, parents have become more cautious when it comes to protecting their babies. Every parent knows what is best for their babies, and with a little research and effort, they can never go wrong with their choices. Rajesh Vohra, CEO, Artsana India (Chicco)
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Washington, Aug 11 (IANS) The White House has said it is exploring ways to support schools in Florida that are facing financial retribution as a result of defying the state's ban on mask mandates.White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told a daily press conference that the Biden administration was looking to support schools in the southern US state that "do the right thing" when it came to masking, praising Florida school leaders for showing "courage" and "boldness" as they sought "to protect students and keep schools safe and open."Psaki's remarks on Tuesday followed days of controversy during which Florida Governor Ron DeSantis threatened to withhold the salaries of those school leaders who defied the governor's earlier executive order banning school districts from issuing mask mandates at a time when students in the state are returning to schools for the fall semester, Xinhua reported."We are continuing to look for ways... for the US government to support districts and schools as they try to follow the science, do the right thing and save lives," Psaki said."I would note what is publicly available and knowable is that the American Rescue Plan funds that were distributed to Florida to provide assistance to schools have not yet been distributed from the state level," she said. "They're federal funds and... they're under federal discretion, so they just need to be distributed to these schools."Asked about the issue at his own press conference on Tuesday, Biden said he's checking if it is within the presidential power to intervene in the state mask bans. He said the anti-mask efforts by states including Florida and Texas were "totally counterintuitive and, quite frankly, disingenuous."As of Monday, superintendents of at least two Florida counties, namely Leon and Alachua, have come forward with their plans to enforce mask mandates, directly defying an emergency rule by the Florida Department of Health under DeSantis's direction that school districts must allow parents to decide whether their children will wear masks.DeSantis's reasoning is that mandating mask-wearing for children infringes on parents' right under Florida law to make decisions about their children's health and education.In implementing the mask mandates, however, the school leaders cited the latest surge in Covid-19 cases brought about by the Delta variant that not only made Florida the national epicentre of the pandemic in terms of overall infections, but also saw the state leading the country in the number of children hospitalized for contracting the virus."If, heaven forbid, we lost a child to this virus, I can't just simply blame the governor of the state of Florida," Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna said when announcing that children from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade will be required to wear masks when classes resume Wednesday in Tallahassee, seat of the county and also capital of the state.As of Monday, 179 pediatric Covid-19 patients were hospitalized in Florida, which leads the entire nation, and Texas came in second with 161 such cases, according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services. --IANSint/pgh
New York, Aug 10 (IANS) An Indian-origin researcher has developed copper-infused masks that may help employees manning the frontlines of customer service, particularly in the hospitality and tourism sectors.Ajay Aluri, founding director of the Hospitality Innovation and Technology (HIT) lab at the West Virginia University in the US, has developed Hygenmask -- a three-layered facemask containing a copper-infused nano-coated fabric, a sustainable bamboo fabric and an ePTFE (a biomaterial) filter.Wearers also don't have to worry about "elf ears" since the masks lack ear loops. Elastic head loops go over the head and can be tightened for a customised fit.Masking up is one safe precaution. But it's also an uncomfortable gesture, as some masks may inflict wear and tear on the face or not provide an adequate level of protection for the worker, Aluri said."Copper has a special place in the culture and tradition of India. People wear copper bracelets and use copper utensils for cooking. And there's a notion, from the Covid standpoint, that copper is antimicrobial," he added.Before Hygenmask, Aluri and his students had created Hygenkey, a copper touch tool with antiviral and antibacterial qualities, in response to the pandemic in 2020."The mask is ideally for people who are always at the front desk or talking to people six to eight hours at a time, whether in restaurants, resorts, airports or any hospitality and tourism industry," Aluri said."Some of these masks out there, if you wear them for a long time, it can be really rough on your skin. So we strived to make it more hygienic and sustainable from a fabric standpoint," he added.During testing, Aluri's mask was found to block up to 93 per cent of droplets being respired. The mask also helps people breathe more comfortably, making the wearer more likely to keep it on for a longer period of time.Aluri himself donned the mask during a 14-hour flight to India."I'm only taking it down when I'm eating or drinking. I had no marks on my face and it was quite comfortable," Aluri said.--IANSrvt/arm
The monsoon season is much loved by all a welcome respite from the hot summer, cool showers bring out a rich, earthy scent and a gentle breeze blowing through the hair. Despite it being the season of love and romance the monsoon can be quite unhealthy for the hair and scalp. Just like we should adapt our skincare routines to different weather; changing the hair care routine is also a must in order to meet the new, changing environmental conditions.
The increase in humidity can have multi-dimensional effects on long, lustrous locks leaving them dull, frizzy and prone to hair fall. Contact with acidic rainwater can leave the scalp extremely dry and flaky thus inviting dandruff related concerns. Air-drying the hair starts to take longer due to high humidity levels and dampness comes with its own set of concerns such as infections, itching etc.
While the above factors might make you love monsoons a little less simple additions can help adapt your hair to the changing season and bring out its best texture despite the conditions. While these alterations can surely help, The Body Shop India shares a well-rounded routine to ensure nourished hair all year round-
Cleansing- With the increased humidity there is a great chance to suffer from itchy scalp and dandruff. To maintain healthy hair and scalp wash your hair twice or thrice a week with a gentle shampoo that is suited for your hair and scalp type. Using an anti-bacterial and anti-dandruff shampoo once a week can also make a lot of difference and help get rid of the itchiness and flakes. Another word of caution is to use normal water to wash your hair, hot water can dry out & fry the hair, while cold water can shock it to damage.
Conditioner/Mask- While it may sound like a task but this one step can be a boon to help reduce breakage. Monsoon season tends to make the hair frizzy and lacklustre; to strengthen the hair and add shine always use a conditioner or a mask that will help boost moisture level and improve texture. Leave on the conditioner/mask for about 5-10 minutes for best results and to make the most of the product.
Serum- Leave on serums is a quick fix to get rid of tangles which often lead to extreme pulls in the hair thus increasing hair fall. It also creates a shine and brings an instant softness to the hair. Ideally, one should use 2-3 drops of hair serum gently on the damp hair.
Oiling- Choose an oil that is lightweight and provides adequate nourishment to the hair. Oiling has been a timeless tradition that helps in adding lustre to the hair. Leaving the hair overnight is ideal however an hour before cleansing can also help reap several benefits. Oil massage also improves the blood circulation in the scalp thereby strengthening the hair follicles, promoting an itch-free scalp and supplementing hair growth.
Styling- While styling the hair can always help the oomph factor, keeping it to the minimal is the better route to take -- focus on keeping the hair length manageable with regular trims, using wide-tooth wooden combs to reduce breakage and choose to air dry rather than using heated treatments such as blow dryers, straighteners, curling rods etc. The high-temperature setting on these devices can often burn hair and while there might not be any short-term effects, it can be especially damaging in the long run.
Healthy Diet- Treatments, styling and routines are a great addition to help hair texture, shine and health but it cannot substitute a healthy diet that is rich in all food groups. Boost your nutrition intake and include Vitamin A, Zinc, Iron and Biotin which help in promoting collagen and boosting cell regeneration.
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Washington, July 28 (IANS) Barely three months after suggesting that vaccinated people no longer needed to wear masks, indoors or out, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has now recommended people to resume wearing masks amid the surging delta variant, the media reported.Speaking to reporters in an afternoon news briefing, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, expressed disappointment and dismay that the summer surge in cases, driven by the delta variant's startling transmissibility and low vaccination rates in many areas, had forced the agency to reimpose its guidance that was lifted in May, the Washington post reported."It is not a welcome piece of news that masking is going to be a part of people's lives who have already been vaccinated," Walensky said. "This new guidance weighs heavily on me."The new guidance advised that people who live in high-transmission communities wear masks in indoor public spaces, even if they've been vaccinated. It also recommended that vaccinated people with vulnerable household members, including young children and those who are immunocompromised, wear masks indoors in public spaces, the report said.The agency also called for universal masking for teachers, staff members and students in schools, regardless of their vaccination status. The CDC continues to recommend that students return to in-person learning in the fall.In addition, the agency also now says that fully vaccinated people should get tested if they have any covid-19 symptoms or if they were recently exposed to someone who had a suspected or confirmed infection. Fully vaccinated Americans also should isolate if they test positive for the coronavirus or are experiencing symptoms, it said.Walensky described the delta variant as, in effect, a different virus, capable of generating outbreaks of infection even among people who are vaccinated. "The delta variant is showing every day its willingness to outsmart us and to be an opportunist in areas where we have not shown a fortified response against it," she said.The concern was also echoed by US top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci, who said that "the situation has clearly changed" since May 13, the Post reported."Vaccinated people are transmitting it, and the extent is unclear, but there's no doubt they're transmitting it. People who are vaccinated, even when they're asymptomatic, can transmit the virus, which is the scientific foundation of why this recommendation is being made," Fauci was quoted as saying.The US continues to be the worst-hit country with the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 34,603,658 and 611,409, respectively, according to the latest update by Johns Hopkins University on Wednesday morning.--IANSrvt/skp/