Children have been encouraged to wear masks to prevent new coronavirus infections. However, wearing a mask when going to and from school or exercising in the summer is dangerous because it carries the risk of heat stroke. Children who are warmer than adults and who are less likely to be thirsty should be especially careful. Protect your child’s health in the summer by devising ways to balance infection control and heat stroke prevention.
No need for children to wear masks when going to and from school in the summer!
As measures against the new coronavirus infection (COVID-19) continue, it seems that many children are still wearing masks and living in school. However, wearing a mask while commuting to and from school in the summer or during physical education classes can be a burden on the child’s body. Until last year, people were encouraged to wear masks, but in 2022, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare also designated “scenes where children do not need to wear masks”, such as going to and from school, physical education classes, and reading and studying indoors. And so on.
This time, we will explain the infection prevention effect of masks, precautions when children use masks in the summer, and appropriate infection prevention methods.
Dangers of summer masks
Risks of children who need to be more careful than adults.
The new coronavirus infection has calmed down more than before, but it looks like it won’t go away this summer. Since the transmission routes are mainly droplet infection and contact transmission, it will be necessary to continue to devise ways to reduce these risks. Wearing a mask can be effective as an infection control measure because it can prevent the spread of infection due to droplet infection and also prevent contact infection by accidentally touching the face with a hand with a pathogen.
However, wearing a mask is not recommended everywhere. There are also notes specific to summer. Masks can help increase body temperature, especially in the summer, as masks prevent the loss of body temperature and water from exhaled breath. The body temperature that normally rises can be lowered by evaporating sweat, but it becomes easier for sweat to evaporate, which makes it easier for the body temperature to rise. Especially in the case of children, the body’s metabolism is good and the body temperature is often high, so it may be easier for the body temperature to rise than adults.
On the other hand, wearing a mask keeps only the humidity in the oral cavity, making it harder for the throat to dry and making it harder to notice thirst. There is also the risk that even as dehydration progresses, it becomes difficult to notice the signs of thirst for drinking water.
Precautions when wearing a mask in the summer
Sweat and stuffiness may reduce the effect
A general surgical mask can prevent the spread of infection to the surroundings due to droplets, but the infection prevention effect of the person wearing it is controversial. There are reports that it is effective and reports that it is not effective, so it is forbidden to overconfident that a mask alone is sufficient to prevent it.
Also, when wearing a mask, it is necessary to cover the nose and mouth tightly so that the gap between the face and the mask is as small as possible, but if you wear it correctly, exhaled breath will remain in the mask and it will be easier to get stuck. Even if you don’t care much in winter, you can sweat inside the mask in hot and humid summer. The exhaled breath warmed by the body temperature also contains water, and the sweat on the face does not dry easily, so the body temperature inside the mask will not drop easily.
Even if the mask is unpleasant for adults, it may be possible to adjust it by putting up with it as needed or removing it appropriately at the discretion of the situation, but it is difficult for children to judge the proper removal of the mask. A damp mask makes it difficult for air to pass through and makes it easier to feel stuffy, but it is not good to put up with suffocation in the hot weather, and if you make a gap in the mask so that you can breathe fresh air, you will feel stuffy. Even if you put up with it, the actual preventive effect of the mask will be reduced
Symptoms of heat stroke
Dizziness, headache, nausea, impaired consciousness, and even life-threatening
Heat stroke is an increased risk due to delayed response to thirst and increased body temperature. There are various factors that are prone to heat stroke, including environments such as high temperature, high humidity, and weak wind, as well as infants, strenuous exercise, and unfamiliar exercise. As the body temperature rises, various symptoms occur throughout the body.
Mild heat stroke does not cause a large increase in body temperature, but dizziness and limb muscle sticking occur, but when the symptoms become severe, headache, nausea, vomiting, and malaise are observed. In severe cases, the body becomes hyperthermia, convulsions and impaired consciousness appear, and if not properly treated, liver and kidney dysfunction and abnormal blood coagulation may occur, leading to death.
In addition, the rise in body temperature and abnormal blood coagulation seen in heat stroke are also seen in complications of the new coronavirus infection, so it should be noted in this respect as well. If you suspect a new coronavirus infection, you may need a PCR test or a chest x-ray or CT scan. For more information on heat stroke, see “What is heat stroke? See also “Symptoms, treatment, and countermeasures for heat stroke and heat exhaustion, ” ” Severity and coping methods for heat stroke, ” and ” Prevention and countermeasures for heat stroke .”
Appropriate infection control and heat stroke prevention
Whether or not a child needs a mask while commuting to and from school or during physical education classes should be determined by considering the benefits of infection prevention and other risks such as those listed here. In the current announcements by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and the Medical Association, there are more and more scenes where masks are not needed, so it is dangerous to think in the same way as last year. When the temperature and humidity rise and the risk of heat stroke due to the mask is considered to be high, it is important to properly use the mask for children depending on the time and place.
Especially outdoors, it is not necessary to wear a mask if you can secure a certain distance (about 2 m) from people and if you rarely have a conversation. Specifically, it includes exercises and movements that are performed away from people, outdoor play such as playing tag, nature observation, and sketching activities.
Even indoors, if you can secure a certain distance (about 2 m) from people and have little conversation, you do not need to wear a mask. Specifically, reading and self-study.
Masks are not recommended for children under 2 years of age. If you are a preschooler over 2 years old, you should consider wearing a mask based on your physical condition. You need to think about cough etiquette and so on.
In the case of children, if the person is not in good physical condition and it is difficult to wear a mask continuously, it is not necessary to forcibly wear it. Especially in the summer, from the viewpoint of preventing heat stroke, there is no need for a mask outdoors. Now, let’s remove the mask.
Basically, even if you are urged to wear a mask while going to and from school, you can remove the mask by keeping a distance of about 2 m from each other and refraining from unnecessary conversations and loud conversations. I think it can be done. Also, outdoor masked sports increase the risk of heat stroke.
It is speculated that wearing a mask makes it difficult to read facial expressions, and it is unlikely that children will become more severe with the new coronavirus infection.Therefore, considering the advantages and disadvantages of the need for masks over adults, It may be the expression “no mask needed”.
However, infection control is necessary when the vaccination rate is not high and the age is limited. Children just touch various things with their hands and touch their faces with their hands. When removing the mask, try to avoid touching your face as much as possible. If you touch it, wash your hands thoroughly. If possible, make it a habit to disinfect your fingers and other familiar items with alcohol. To prevent heat stroke, it is important to take measures to prevent infection and prevent heat stroke, such as encouraging regular intake of water containing salt.
(Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare)