Doctors Say Face Masks Could Be Providing Unexpected Relief From Seasonal Allergies

About 25 million Americans suffer with seasonal allergies. But some say they feel better now than in previous years. Doctors think a COVID prevention measure could be behind the unexpected relief.

Video Transcript

- 25 million Americans suffer with seasonal allergies. But some are reporting they feel better now than they have in previous seasons.

- Doctors think a COVID prevention measure could be behind the unexpected relief. CBS 2's Femi Redwood has more.

FEMI REDWOOD: Ben and Cherie Rosen's seasonal allergies are so severe, their plans often revolve around the daily pollen count.

CHERIE ROSEN: Eyes are very itchy. Sometimes it's even hard to breathe.

SHERRY ROSEN: Sneezing, coughing. And I have allergic asthma as well.

FEMI REDWOOD: But the couple says they've noticed some changes this spring.

CHERIE ROSEN: It's hard for me to speak sometimes just because the allergies are so bad. And I haven't had any of that so far this year.

FEMI REDWOOD: Some studies suggest mask wearing may be playing a role in alleviating allergy symptoms. Israeli researchers looked at data on nurses who wore masks for two weeks. 40% with severe allergies reported less symptoms when they wore a mask. 54% with mild allergies said they felt symptoms improved.

PURVI PARIKH: It almost acts like a barrier between you and the pollen when you're outside. It can even protect against indoor allergens if you wear a mask indoors while you're working or what have you. Dust mites, mold.

FEMI REDWOOD: Dr. Purvi Parikh from the Allergy and Asthma Network says she tells patients to change clothes and shower to avoid bringing pollen into the house. So the same thing applies for masks.

PURVI PARIKH: You don't want to keep putting that same mask that might have pollen on it on your face every day. You should be washing your mask frequently regardless.

FEMI REDWOOD: Ben and Cherie say even a little bit of relief is a good thing.

CHERIE ROSEN: I don't know if the mask has contributed to it. But I know overall I feel like I've had much less allergy attacks than I've had in past years.

FEMI REDWOOD: The couple make sure to take their medications and also gets allergy and asthma shots to help. Femi Redwood, CBS News.