Halloween masks can harbor scary germs

Since Halloween is only a few days away, many of us are scrambling for last-minute costumes.

One of the more popular choices is a mask of some sort. As you can see from the photo accompanying this blog post, my 14-year-old son found a fun Angry Birds mask in a local store and wanted to try it on.

Unfortunately, while masks can be a great way to dress up for Halloween, they can also harbor scary germs and bacteria from other shoppers who also may have tried them on.

Germs in Halloween masksI asked Amy Seery, MD, a Via Christi pediatriatrician, to talk about what can lurk in Halloween masks:

“Any time you have a mask made of rubber or latex, they can trap moisture. It’s not just a matter of touching the surface of the mask, you can still breathe particles off the mask. The inside of the mask would also be the ideal surface to grow forms of bacteria.

It would be to everyone’s benefit if stores also behave like a lot of grocery stores, where there are antibiotic wipes available in order to wipe off the inside of the masks. To give the stores the benefit of the doubt, maybe some of these rubber or latex masks couldn’t tolerate a lot of heavy cleaning or industrial solutions, but a having a wipe would be nice.

Certainly anything you would purchase, you should think about cleaning very well. And even after it’s been used and stored for a year it should be cleaned, because these masks can become sort of a petrie dish.  

Lots of viruses will exist in tiny moisture droplets every time you exhale either from your nose or mouth. Those viruses can be anything from rhinovirus or coronavirus that cause the common cold. They can be slightly more severe viruses such as RSV. Even if it doesn’t make you sick, you could carry it around and pass it on unwittingly to a baby and make them very, very sick. 

Additionally lots of bacteria can be found in these masks. If you think about who most loves these types of masks, it’s teenage boys who can have acne. Acne is caused by bacteria. Every time they put on a mask on the store, they can be transferring the bacteria from their skin, one of the most oily places on their body, and it will linger in the mask.

As a pediatrician, I love the Halloween holiday because kids’ imaginations are engaged and they get to meet their community and get to go out and have fun, and I’d hate to ever discourage it. But it would nice if we could all do it without passing along our germs.”

About Maria Loving

I am the coordinator of the Women's Connection's blog and have worked for Via Christi Health for 11 years. I'm also the mother of two boys, ages 11 & 13.
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