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‘Maskne’: the Latest Skin Problem

  • Neha
  • Skin Treatment
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Maskne means break out of acne due to mask

With the ongoing pandemic, a coronavirus mask, now officially is a part of everyone’s daily outfit. Designers also became creative and came up with a breakthrough of using the mask as a clothing accessory.. Masks provide a layer of protection. But they can also irritate the skin, clog pores, and flare acne. Keep reading to learn how to deal with “maskne” — the new term for breakouts caused by masks.

What is this new issue?

“Maskne” as popularly said, is basically friction and trapped moisture from wearing a mask that can cause acne on this area of your skin.

These “maskne” are not a new thing; Healthcare professionals are very prone to this condition as historically they have been wearing masks for a longer duration. Since due to pandemic there has been a significant increase in wearing a mask by common people as well, these cases are now being seen in them also.

Health experts unanimously agree that wearing a mask is one of the healthiest and most responsible things we can do during the COVID-19 pandemic. After all, using a face covering in public helps to reduce further transmission by blocking the respiratory droplets from a possibly infected person from being spewed into the air, where they can be inhaled by healthy people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

How does it present?

As the name is pretty self-explanatory: it is acne caused by wearing a mask. It may also present with/as skin irritation, redness and other skin problems as well. While it’s distressing to start seeing spots pop up on your face again, there are measures you can take to prevent or treat it to get your clear skin back.

Why does it occur?

While these acnes look similar to the normal acnes, their reason for occurrence is pretty simple. Masks can lead to acne breakouts for two main reasons:

  1.  Direct friction promotes inflammation, which drives breakouts. This is also called “acne mechanica” as it is a common problem among athletes as friction is a very common and essential part of any athletic activity.
  2. Masks also promote breakouts indirectly by trapping moisture, which creates an environment allowing for the overgrowth of microorganisms on the skin.
  3. The material of a mask absorbs the skin’s natural oils. For some people, this leads to dryness and sensitivity. Residue from detergents and fabric softeners also gets stuck underneath the mask and can cause irritation. When irritation becomes inflammation, you see redness, dry patches, peeling, or dark marks.

The Best Mask Material to Keep Acne at Bay

People in healthcare settings likely won’t have the choice of what type of mask they wear on the job. But in the light of recent events, there is a wide array of choices available for the common public when they are going out in the community.But how to know which one to use? If you have the opportunity to choose then, wear a mask made from a material that’s gentler on the skin and won’t trap excess heat. That’s a 100 percent cotton mask, which is the most breathable and will serve the purpose also. Wash your mask daily to remove residue from sunscreen, skin care products, and makeup, as these can clog pores.

If you are wearing disposable masks, then replace them as frequently as you can. Also, you may place silicon strips under the mask’s pressure points to alleviate some of the rubbing and friction.

Measures to treat it-

8 key skin care tips to protect your face from irritation

  1. Wash your face first: You would not want to put your mask over a dirty face. Dirt and oil on your skin will get trapped under the mask and can cause breakouts. Before wearing your mask, wash your face with a gentle cleanser that is fragrance-free and oil-free, and lukewarm water, not hot. Avoid scrubbing or rubbing the skin.
  2.  Apply a good moisturizer: Moisturizer keeps your skin hydrated and acts like a barrier to friction from your mask. Choose one that is fragrance-free and oil-free. Look for protective ingredients like ceramide and hyaluronic acid. Avoid heavy products that can clog your skin and make you break out.
  3. Skip the makeup: Don’t wear makeup underneath your mask. Masks act like occlusive an barrier, which means trapped makeup can lead to clogged pores and breakouts. Also, residue from makeup can soil your mask fabric.
  4. Wear only clean masks: Your mask is supposed to act as a barrier by not letting anything pass through it. Therefore,dirt and oil from your skin plus bacteria from your mouth and nose will end up on your cloth mask. Keep a rotation of masks on hand and wash them after every use.
  5. Stick to fragrance-free laundry detergent: When washing your mask, choose a fragrance-free laundry detergent and lay flat to dry. Fragrance within the fabric can be an irritant, so you definitely don’t want it on your face.
  6. Don’t reuse surgical masks: Surgical masks are not meant to be reused because there is no good way to clean them. Use them only once and dispose them properly without infecting others.
  7. Protect your ears: Elastic strap loops can cause friction burns on the backs of your ears. If your skin is sensitive or if you’ll be wearing a mask for long periods of time, there are alternatives. You can attach the straps to buttons on a headband or to a clip behind your head. Take some minutes of break while wearing mask for longer period of time.
  8. Avoid harsh products: Medicated products like retinol or benzoyl peroxide are more irritating under a mask. If you’re wearing a mask a lot, either uses less of them or stop using them altogether.

How to deal with Maskne?

Just like any acne, dermatologists advise you to keep your hands off of it and do not try to pop or squeeze. This will only cause more damage to the skin and take longer to heal.

Always apply a good moisturizer to the skin before you put on a mask. After you take it off, cleanse the skin and apply a bland emollient.

If breakouts, redness, or swelling still persist, seek medical care with our expert dermatologist at Allure Medspa

The bottom line

It’s clear that masks are here to stay and one must use them under every circumstance. But this protection should not come at a cost of an outburst of acne. The right skin care routine can help lessen mask-related skin damage and breakouts.

When should I see a doctor?

If you have skin damage or breakouts that don’t respond to skin care changes, you should see a dermatologist. Spreading redness or draining pus can be signs of infection. Many now offer virtual visits.

Book your 3-D virtual consultation today