This very strange situation we find ourselves in due to the pandemic and lockdown, has had an impact on both the mental and physical health of many people. However, for those on the front line having to wear Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) all day long, it’s much more extreme and the physical demands alone are enormous and extremely challenging. In this article I’ll look at the issues and address them as best I can. To help with this I sought advice from a couple of health professionals.
A skin and wellness expert who works from the inside out. She has her own range of skin products as well as a supplement range.
Pharmacist at Victoria Health.
Wearing a mask all day can lead to two main issues:
1 – Dehydration
In any kind of medical facility, once a mask has been removed for any reason it has to be disposed of. Therefore in order not to waste supplies, workers are restricting their water intake to any breaks they have. The full gear makes hot work and what with the current warm weather, it’s very easy to become dehydrated. This can lead to all kinds of problems and dark circles appearing under eyes can be a sign.
How you drink water is crucial for keeping properly hydrated
Most people will take little sips through the day. However it’s very difficult to properly hydrate your cells this way. As advised by nutritionist Fleur Borrelli, co-author of my book The In-Sync Diet, far better to drink a good amount when thirsty to get fully hydrated.
Start by having a large glass or two of water first thing on waking
And then on each break be sure to drink a good amount of water. However due to the circumstances and not being able to drink the moment you are thirsty, I think that extra help is needed.
Marie: look at ionic minerals to take in a litre of water before shift and as soon as able to drink again – I recommend one of my supplements Spectramin for maintaining mineral and electrolyte balance. Another one called Rehydration could also help for fluid imbalance and symptoms of excessive thirst; lack of thirst; dry skin; bloating; headaches; stiffness in muscles and joints; mental sluggishness; dry mucous membranes including throat, mouth and sinuses. These can also be used together for optimal effect and holding on to fluids for longer.
Glynis: both Spectramin and Rehydration are available on Marie’s site, but you need to have a (free) consultation with her before you can get Spectramin (to make sure you use it correctly). Rehydration is available to buy without consultation. Of course you could get an electrolyte drink from any pharmacy as well, although the quality will be very different.
I also swear by another hydrating product on the Rejuvenated site, called H3O Hydration. This powder that you mix with water, is also full of minerals and electrolytes but has the added bonus of containing hyaluronic acid and super anti-oxidant resveratrol, leading to plumper, firmer and healthier skin. It comes in handy sachets as well, perfect for taking to work.
Shabir: Avoid caffeinated drinks as they are diuretic. Coconut water is extremely hydrating and is rich in potassium and minerals that can be lost through sweat.
Glynis: Coconut water is a great drink for those times you want something other than water. It does have a bit of naturally occurring sugar however so should not be over done. It’s important to drink plenty of regular water as well. If you are in need of energy and are missing caffeine, try a low caffeine drink like green or white tea. It still will give you a little lift.
I would just like to add that prolonged use of face masks reduces oxygen intake, so remove it for as long as possible on your break and go outside if you can.
2 – Spots and bumps
These can appear round the mouth and chin caused by dampness building up under the mask.
Shabir: Bacteria that live on the skin’s surface thrive in damp conditions and may cause acne. Spritz Thyme Out after cleansing which contains a concentrated extract of thyme which has a long history indicating its anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties – this may reduce recurrences.
Glynis: Spots can also appear on other parts of the body, particularly the back, due to sweat, stress or a less than perfect diet. Thyme Out Face and Body Wash which is anti-viral, fungal and bacterial as well as anti-inflammatory could help with this as well as the Thyme Out spray.
Marie: My Restore facial food mask is the go to – the live probiotics will help to balance the flora and deal with external nasties building up.
Glynis: Restore is one of my all time favourite products and is worth every single penny. It’s a facial mask, used once or twice a week, that feeds your skin and leaves it shiny smooth. It’s anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. It’s beyond amazing and cleans and nourishes skin like nothing I’ve ever come across. I cannot recommend it enough. The pot will last for ages.
Hot, dry conditions as well as allergies can cause discomfort in the eyes. And of course wearing gloves makes it difficult to touch or rub them. Hands also need to be scrupulously clean before touching the eyes.
Shabir: Consider taking supplements containing omega 7 sea buckthorn oil that are known to help alleviate dry eyes.
Marie: Homeopathic remedy Calc Phos is great for all eye strain but for dry eyes in particular look at Nat Mur.
Part 2 of the PPE guide will look at:
- Keeping the immune system at optimal level
- Sleep and stress
- Effects of wearing heavy equipment