If you woke up this morning with a sore throat, don’t panic. It’s probably not COVID–in fact, it might actually be caused by your mask.
While face masks have proven to be effective in flattening the curve of COVID-19, most people aren’t too thrilled about wearing them for several reasons:
They cause “maskne” and “mask breath.”
The wrong masks can make it hard to breathe.
They can fog up your glasses.
Or sometimes, people simply don’t like the government telling them what to do.
But now, people are beginning to note a new complaint about wearing masks: sore throats. Thankfully, each of these problems has a solution, and today we’re going to take a deeper dive into solving your mask-induced sore throat.
What causes a sore throat while wearing a mask?
Think of your mask like your underwear. Would you wear them for longer than a day without washing them? We hope not.
Your mask is no different. Without washing it (or disposing of it if it’s disposable), you create a breeding ground for infection. When you pick up that filthy mask that’s been sitting in your car for weeks, strap it on, and then breathe in the dirt and bacteria trapped inside, you’re lining your throat with polluted air full of little nasties.
Some doctors theorize that mask-related sore throats may be due to vocal strain caused by the need to speak louder while wearing a mask. That may be the case if you have to wear one for the entire day in an environment where you’re constantly interacting with others, but it’s more likely than not that you’re just breathing in bacteria and dirt that irritates your throat.
Taking your mask off without washing your hands first can also exacerbate the problem. The CDC recommends that you frequently and thoroughly wash your hands throughout the day, and your mask requires frequent cleaning as well.
If you’ve been using disposable masks, you should throw them out after each outing. They are NOT meant to be reused.
Unfortunately, this can become prohibitively expensive over time, and if not disposed of properly, you can really add to an already unsightly pollution problem. Because of this, we recommend wearing washable face masks or face shields.
At Quality Face Wear, our machine washable cloth face masks are the ideal solution for students and employees who face the public every day and are required to wear masks.
These reusable masks can be included in your normal laundry load and reused over and over again–without causing a sore throat.
We recommend washing in cold or warm water, and you can use your usual detergent. Our masks can be dried in your dryer as well–just make sure they’re completely dry before putting them back on your face. We recommend drying them in a lingerie bag so they don’t disappear like that mystery sock you’ve always wondered what happened to.
Always practice proper mask hygiene, including limiting the number of times that you touch or remove it, and always washing your hands before putting it on or taking it off. Keeping a clean mask will certainly reduce the chances of you ending up with a sore throat, but if you do get one, it can easily be be treated with a salt-water gargle or over-the-counter medication.
If you’ve tried these solutions and are still struggling, consult your general physician and consider wearing a face shield instead.
Face shields will not cause a sore throat, maskne, mask breath, or obstruct your breathing.