Maskne – acne/irritation from wearing a mask

2020…Here we are in Lockdown 2.0 with mandatory mask wearing and stage 4 restrictions. And now we have to deal with Maskne.  It’s a no brainer that we must wear face masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19. So please, let’s all wear our masks. It looks like we will be wearing them for the rest of the year and then some. Initially, we were loving not having to do a full face of makeup and eating garlic for breakfast, lunch and dinner without complaints of garlic breath. But it seems that even wearing our mask for our daily walks has some side effects.

So what is maskne? Acne, pimples, blackheads, rashes, and other skin issues have from wearing masks.

Why are we getting maskne? The friction between our mask and our skin can cause inflammation and irritation which can lead to clogged pores. Mask life can also break down the skin barrier, the microscopic layer of protective oils and fats that protect skin against bacteria as well as keep hydration inside the skin. This can not only make acne worse, but could also cause particular problems in people with dry or sensitive skin and make maskne harder to treat. Furthermore, bacteria thrive in a moist, warm environment—like inside our mask. So the bad news is, that as we head towards spring with the warmer temperatures outside, it may make our maskne worse. Combine all this with the stress from a global pandemic… HELP!

Prevention is key. So what can we do?

  1. Choose a lightweight fabric like cotton, silk or satin that don’t create as much friction against our skin.
  2. Wash our mask before we wear it for the first time and wash it frequently to cut down on the amount of dirt and bacteria that can linger on the fabric. Masks should be washed and completely dried after every use. If we exercise or sweat during the day with a mask on, then change that mask and put on a fresh, clean mask right away. So it’s best to have multiple masks. Think of our masks like we think of our pillow slips- wash often.
  3. Apply NO makeup on our lower face as it’s going to be covered by the mask anyway. Removing makeup removes one more thing that could clog our pores and create more breakouts.
  4. Protect our skin from our mask by creating a barrier. Find a light, non-comedogenic (non clogging) moisturiser and put it on a few minutes before you put your mask on.
  5. Stress can lead to more severe acne (plus many other things!). Practice self-care as best we can during this global pandemic. And remember, research show acupuncture can help to reduce stress levels.

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