Face mask hurting you? 6 expert tips to make them more comfortable

Doctors, nurses and hairstylists share the top tips they've learned while wearing face masks.
/ Source: TODAY

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the best ways to help slow the spread of COVID-19 is by wearing face coverings in public.

But masks are not always the most comfortable accessory, with ear chafing, itching and claustrophobia as some of the main complaints.

The good news? There are easy solutions to try, according to people who wear masks all the time, like doctors, nurses and hairstylists.

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Ahead, find six clever hacks to make masks a little more comfortable.

1. Mask funky odors

Jenny Rusin, a cardiac intensive care nurse in Boston, sprays her mask with antibacterial laundry sanitizer. “It helps that what I have to breathe in all day smells really good,” Rusin told TODAY Style.

2. Relieve ear pain

To prevent chafing, Ashley Hilmes, owner of Boston-based medical VEGA Vitality, said she fashions a DIY “ear saver” with a paper clip. For instant relief, just loop the elastic straps through a clip to attach them to the back of your head.

Dental assistant turned hairstylist Jill Chambers has found that double-sided body tape also works wonders.

“It can be attached to the side of the mask and stuck to the cheek,” Chambers, who owns the Lilith Main Salon in Tennessee, told TODAY Style. “It’s safe to use on skin and keeps the loops off the ears.”

3. Breathe easy

“I know these masks suck, but coming from a former dental assistant, keep some sugar-free menthol cough drops in your pocket,” Chambers wrote on Facebook. “Pop one when you feel suffocated. It’ll keep that breath fresh AND the menthol helps you feel less 'stuffy' in the mask.”

4. Avoid breakouts

Maskne is a real thing. Dr. Tess Mauricio, a board-certified dermatologist in Beverly Hills, California, recommends taking a break from thick makeup, such as foundation and concealer, to combat blemishes.

“The oils in these can further block your pores,” Mauricio told TODAY Style.

When it comes to choosing a facial cleanser, Mauricio suggests formulas that contain salicylic acid, which decrease inflammation.

It’s also key to keep your face covering clean and free of contaminants.

"Treat your close face masks like regular laundry," Mauricio said. "They should be washed with hot water in the washing machine and tumble dried on high heat. More delicate, hand-sewn masks may need to be washed by hand with soap and water."

5. Beat the heat

Tying your hair back will keep you cool during the summer months — but it’s also a good way to avoid transferring germs to your mask, according to Mauricio.

“Long hair like mine can pick up viruses and bacteria that can transfer to your mask,” she explained.

6. Say goodbye to itching and redness

Dr. Nancy Rosen, a New York City-based dentist who has sensitive skin, told TODAY Style that she places a tissue at the tip of her nose and just past her lower lip to combat irritation.