In recent months, masks have become a necessary accessory to help stop the spread of coronavirus. But annoying skin conditions and acne can accompany masking up, and a condition called maskne is on the rise.
Perhaps you are a nurse, grocery store clerk, or construction worker and have noticed unsightly bumps and lines after wearing a mask for eight hours or more. Or maybe you faithfully don your cloth mask when out in public, but anxiety or humidity has caused your acne-prone skin to flare up.
Acne related to face masks is a real thing, exacerbated by heat and humidity during the summer months. Some signs to watch out for include red bumps or pimples around your mouth and chin and dry, flakey skin.
What is Maskne?
Maskne actually has a formal name – acne mechanica – and is the result of the mechanical friction of fabric against the skin. Regularly covering the lower half of your face also creates a breeding ground for acne. Oil, sweat, and other bacteria can change the microbiome and cause rashes, inflammation, and breakouts.
Masks with tight straps and a snug fit, such as N95 masks, can leave an indention and contribute to dry or irritated skin. Wearing the same mask over and over again without tossing it or washing it is another big no-no.
You want to be proactive and catch maskne before it becomes a full-blown acne outbreak or a more persistent dermatitis.
Follow these tips to prevent and treat maskne:
- Take your mask off as much as possible, especially at home, and let your skin get air.
- Wash your face with gentle soap and water or an over-the-counter cleanser with salicylic acid in the morning and at night. Salicylic acid removes dirt, dead skin cells, and oil from your pores to prevent breakouts.
- Try a 2.5% benzoyl peroxide at night; apply it on the full area and not just to acne.
- Use topical sulfur acne products and spot treatments with acne-fighting ingredients on blemishes.
- Avoid retinoids, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), and other harsh products since they can cause further irritation.
- Be vigilant and follow a regular skincare routine to keep your skin clear. If you’re already prone to acne, stick to a consistent acne regimen; otherwise, the bumps are likely to reappear.
- Go au naturel or focus on making your eyes pop. Limit makeup or don’t wear any, especially the areas covered by your mask.
- Keep face cleansing wipes in your bag in case you need to wipe away sweat or refresh your face on the go.
- Use a gentle, lightweight face moisturizer or lotion – even men – in the morning and at night to combat dry skin.
- Remember to apply sunscreen before you head outdoors. Harmful UV rays can still sneak through your mask and clothes.
- Avoid touching your face. Wash your hands before touching your face or removing your mask. This helps prevent the spread of illness and bacteria that can lead to acne.
- Opt for a cotton mask, which is the most breathable and wicks away moisture. Make sure to wash it regularly and keep it in a sealed bag to avoid dirt and germs.
- Schedule an appointment with your dermatologist to discuss maskne or other chronic skin conditions.
Wearing a mask in public or on-the-job is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. For others, face coverings are nothing new and already part of their daily work and cultural life. It’s important to practice good hand and skin hygiene to stop the spread of coronavirus and unsightly acne outbreaks. When it’s time to shed your mask, you want to be able to reveal clear, beautiful skin.
Has it been a while since you have visited your dermatologist? APDerm offers a variety of medical, cosmetic, and surgical dermatology services backed by a team of skincare experts and board-certified dermatologists. Don’t wait to address maskne or hide behind your mask because you are embarrassed about your skin. Contact APDerm today for clearer skin tomorrow and practice good skincare habits throughout the year!
We are here to help you with all your dermatology needs. Please reach out to us by either calling (978) 707-6208 or by filling out the form below.