Wednesday, December 21, 2011
When you have a cold (or influenza, or anything that spreads when you cough or sneeze) you wear a mask in Japan. Many foreigners seem to think that Asian people wear masks because they are afraid of getting sick, but it is actually the other way around. They are afraid of making you sick when they are already sick. When you see someone with a mask you know they have a cold and you can keep your distance if you are worried, so it works as an easy to spot signal. It also helps a little bit that they cough out all their viruses into the mask too, I guess.
You can also wear a mask to help against pollen. I have an allergy to pollen that makes my nose run like crazy and my eyes itch so much I may consider sticking a fork in my eye to relieve the itching sometimes. Taking allergy meds helps quite a lot but it makes me very sleepy. Just putting on a mask helps even more, and the main problems are only that your suntan looks weird and that your sunglasses fog up. With a mask and no allergy meds, I have gotten rid of my allergy problems almost 100% the last seasons. My mother forbade me from putting on a mask when I was in Sweden, though (apparently it "looks weird"), so I had to take meds again. That did not help as much as the mask does.
Another great thing with masks that I have found out is that in the winter when you have a woolly muffler covering your face, the mask keeps wool out of your mouth.