Superheroes wear masks, but every Superman/ Superwoman has a kryptonite. Where are your masks coming from? Are they homemade, ordered from the internet, or made with the community college’s 3-D printer? How does your skin feel after wearing a face covering all day?
Hidden Mask Materials
As we discussed, masks come in all varieties of colors, designs, and materials. Some of these materials are intentional, like tightly woven fibers to create an intricate web of particle filtration. On the other
hand, some masks may carry unwanted materials. This can include:
These chemicals can produce allergic reactions. Allergic contact dermatitis can occur with redness, irritation, acne, itching, and even blisters in the area of the skin that has come into contact with the skin.
Hives, or urticara, can occur as itchy red spots or patches. This reaction can even cause respiratory symptoms, which may need urgent medical attention.
Angioedema from Masks
A rare reaction to contact with a mask that we have seen in our practice is angioedema, or a sudden swelling of the lips and mouth. As you can see, this swelling went from bad to worse. Angioedema is dangerous because it can spread down into the oropharynx and risk closure of the airway if left untreated. Luckily, this woman improved after urgent treatment with steroids.
These reactive chemicals do not appear on any ingredient list or product description of masks. However, certain masks can carry these chemicals as a byproduct of their manufacturing. Therefore, it is important to ensure that yours come from a reputable source.
When it comes to wearing homemade cloth masks, people can react to the cloth itself or even the detergent or fabric softener that was used to wash the mask. Therefore, you may have to try out different kinds of masks to find the one that best fits your superhero costume. Join your team of superhero doctors, and wear your mask!