In March 2020, New York City encountered its first official case of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019). This novel coronavirus, referred to as SARS-COV 2, originated in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Within a short amount of time, hundreds of thousands of cases were diagnosed around the world and the United States, causing the World Health Organization to announce it as an official infectious disease pandemic on January 30, 2020.
COVID-19 is spread by respiratory droplets, and healthcare professionals are mandated to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) for a prolonged period of time when caring for COVID-19 patients.
Healthcare professionals report side effects of prolonged use of PPE when caring for COVID-19 patients. This study delves into various adverse effects of prolonged mask use and provides recommendations to ease the burden on healthcare professionals.
This is a cross sectional study among healthcare professionals, primarily located in New York City, who worked in the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. All respondents completed an anonymous survey consisting of twenty one questions regarding adverse effects of PPE, medical history, and demographics.
A total of 343 healthcare professionals on the COVID-19 front lines participated in this study. The majority were female (n = 315) and 227 were located in New York City. 225 respondents identified as White, 34 as Hispanic, 23 as African American, and 61 as “other” ethnicity. 314 respondents reported adverse effects from prolonged mask use with headaches being the most common complaint (n = 245). Skin breakdown was experienced by 175 respondents, and acne was reported in 182 respondents. Impaired cognition was reported in 81 respondents. Previous history of headaches (n = 98), skin sensitivity (n = 164), and acne (n = 121) were found in some respondents. Some respondents experienced resolved side effects once masks were removed, while others required physical or medical intervention.
Prolonged use of N95 and surgical masks by healthcare professionals during COVID-19 has caused adverse effects such as headaches, rash, acne, skin breakdown, and impaired cognition in the majority of those surveyed. As a second wave of COVID-19 is expected, and in preparation for future pandemics, it is imperative to identify solutions to manage these adverse effects. Frequent breaks, improved hydration and rest, skin care, and potentially newly designed comfortable masks are recommendations for future management of adverse effects related to prolonged mask use.
Journal of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology
J Infect Dis Epidemiol
Pub Date: June 01, 2020
Article Type: Survey
Pub Type: Open Access