If you are dealing with the sudden appearance of pimples along your jawline and around your nose, you are likely dealing with maskne. If you haven’t heard the name before, it’s because it is relatively new and actually refers to skin conditions that can result from wearing a mask. This occurs due to friction from the pressure, stretching, and rubbing from the material of the mask causing irritation. This irritation, combined with the presence of bacteria from our mouths and nasal secretions, causes the skin to become inflamed.
Maskne refers to multiple conditions caused by wearing a mask, including:
- Acne is a result of pores becoming clogged with oil, dirt, and dead cells, many of us are familiar with acne. This can cause blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples.
- Contact Dermatitis occurs when you are allergic or sensitive to the material of your mask. It may cause a rash, possibly with blisters or irritation.
- Folliculitis is an infection of the hair follicles which results in bumps and may include pain or itchiness.
Rosacea sufferers may experience flare-ups leading to pimples and redness.
Clearly, masks can take a toll on your skin. They are a vital part of helping to contain the spread of COVID, however, so we will be wearing them a little bit longer, at least. Until they can be safely discarded, here are some tips that can help protect your skin from experiencing maskne.
- Daily Cleansing and Moisturizing. Using a mild, fragrance-free cleanser, wash your face daily and remember to follow up with a moisturizer to avoid the other mask-related problem: dry skin. Choose your moisturizer based on your skin type: gel for oily skin (or during hot, humid weather), lotion for normal and combination skin, and cream for dry or very dry skin.
- Protect Your Lips using petroleum jelly. Chapped lips are another issue related to wearing a mask. You can apply the petroleum jelly to your lips after washing your face, before wearing your mask, and before bed. Apply only to your lips.
- Avoid Makeup When Wearing Your Mask. This is because make-up is more likely to clog your pores when worn under a mask. If you feel you must wear makeup, choose a product that is labelled non-comedogenic.
- Avoid Experimenting with New Products for Now. Wearing a mask can make your skin more sensitive, even if you are only wearing it for short periods. Avoid trying new products during this time which are known to be somewhat harsh, such as chemical peels and exfoliants.
- Reduce the Amount of Product Used if your skin becomes irritated. Even if you are using products that you have used for some time, you may experience a reaction as your skin becomes more sensitive. You may need to reduce the amount used. Some products to watch for are retinoids applied to the face, aftershave, or leave-on salicylic acid.
- Choose the Right Mask. Not all masks are made the same, and some might cause more irritation than others. In general, be sure your mask has a tight but comfortable fit and at least two layers of a soft, breathable fabric. Aim for natural fabrics such as cotton on the inside. Synthetic fabrics increase the likelihood of irritation.
- Take a Break From Your Mask. If you are outdoors and at least six feet away from others, or if you are alone in your car, you can remove your mask to give your skin a break. Be sure it is safe to do so and remember to wash your hands first.
- Wash Your Mask. Oils, skin cells, and bacteria can all accumulate inside your mask, and yet some users will wear a single mask repeatedly. Be sure to change and wash your mask after each use. After washing, make sure it is still in good shape (no holes, still snug).
- Maintain Your Treatment as provided by your dermatologist if you have an existing skin condition.
With Proper skin care and certain precautions, you can reduce the risk of maskne. It requires a little extra effort, but your skin will thank you!