Elastic -free face masks are being recommended for people with skin allergies to keep them safe during Covid-19.
Some people find that elastic or rubber triggers a skin condition known as contact dermatitis.
“What makes contact dermatitis tricky is that it can be delayed so you may expose your skin to something and a reaction may not occur until days later,” explains Yashu Dhamija, an immunologist at University of Cincinnati
“Intermittent reactions can be tricky because you don’t know what the patient is exposing themselves to and the allergen could be at work or home.”
Up to 6pc of the population suffers from contact dermatitis and those who do suffer from the condition have found that the elastic in masks can trigger facial rash and eyelid swelling.
“Instead of using elastics in a facial mask, I would modify it and use cotton-based knot ties around the back of the head to hold the mask in place,” says Dhamija.
“We also advise patients to call companies that make facial masks to find out what’s in the product if labelling does not contain enough details.
“There are immune reactions to allergens that can be life-threatening but when it comes to contact dermatitis, it doesn’t escalate that far.
“We can quickly identify the allergen and stop the offending agent. But, some cases can be severe,” Dr Dhamija stresses.
“Treatment usually means avoiding the agent or we can use a topical or oral steroid if needed. It depends on how severe the reaction is and how much of the body is affected.
“We also take into account how it is impacting the patient’s life or ability to work, for example.”