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20 tips to make face masks more comfortable

  • Minnesota now requires wearing a face covering in all indoor businesses and public indoor spaces
  • A face mask protects you from breathing in droplets from people who are infected but who don’t feel sick, and reduces the droplets you might release into the air, protecting those around you.
  • For many people, mask wearing is a normal part of the workday. If health care workers, dentists and construction workers can do it, we can do it

Face masks are now mandatory in Minnesota when you are in public. Emerging research shows that COVID-19 is often spread by droplets transmitted through the air from talking, coughing, sneezing, loud talking and even singing. A face mask protects you from breathing in droplets from people who are infected with coronavirus, who might not feel sick. A face mask also reduces the amount of droplets you release into the air. Wearing a mask is as much for others as for you.

Wearing a face mask can be uncomfortable. Many health care workers empathize with you. Some of these tips come from the pros who have had to deal with mask wearing during their work day.

First, your mask should fit snugly above your nose and below your chin. It should be tight but not so tight that it digs into your face. Here are some common complaints of mask wearers along with 20 tips to make you more comfortable.

My ears hurt because of the loops

1. Instead of the more common elastic ear loops, use a mask that ties in the back or that have two bands of elastic that go around your head, top and bottom.

2. Use a barrette or paper clip to connect the ear loops behind your head to relieve ear chafing.

3. Sew buttons on the sides of a headband, or baseball or stocking cap and attach the ear loops to the buttons.

Wearing a mask is too hot

4. Choose masks that are made from 100 percent cotton, especially if it’s more than one layer of fabric. Cotton allows more airflow than other fabrics.

5. If you have long hair, put it in a ponytail.

Wearing a mask makes my glasses fog up

6. Make sure your mask fits well. A loose-fitting mask lets more of your warmed breath escape from the top of the mask. For a tighter fit try a mask that ties in the back, has adjustable ear loops or has a bendable nose piece.

7. Place a facial tissue inside your mask. The tissue will absorb some of the moisture from your warm breath and reduce the fog.

8. Try over-the-counter anti-fog sprays of your lenses.

9. Wash your lenses with soapy water, rinse and let air dry or dry with a clean, microfiber cloth.


I have trouble breathing when I wear a mask

10. Choose a mask made from 100% cotton which is more breathable.

11. Add a drop of peppermint oil at the base of the mask to help ease breathing and increase comfort level.

12. If you have an anxiety reaction from wearing a mask, talk to your doctor. He or she can recommend resources to help reduce your anxiety, such as meditation, deep breathing, anti-anxiety medication or other relaxation techniques.

My skin is breaking out from wearing my mask

13. Avoid use of heavy makeup, such as foundation, which can clog your pores.

14. Moisturize your skin, especially in the areas prone to irritation.

15. Wash your face before and after mask wearing.

16. Wash your masks regularly.

How to help your kids feel more comfortable wearing a mask

17. Choose a variety of fun patterns for cloth masks and have your child choose his or her favorite.

18. Get kids used to mask wearing by playing while wearing a mask.

19. Pretend it’s part of a superhero costume or a disguise.

20. Try masks that tie or the button hack explained earlier.

If wearing a mask feels challenging, remember that, for many people, it’s a normal part of the workday. Health care providers, dentists and construction workers among others, rely on masks for protection. If they can do it, we can do it!


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