Thanks to the coronavirus, we’ve seen an increase in the number of patients experiencing acne caused by wearing a face mask; also known as: Maskne.
Maskne, or medically called: acne mechanica, is the result of the mechanical friction of fabric against the skin which can lead to inflammation and irritation. Sports figures who wear helmets and chin guards are familiar with such breakouts and so are nurses and other health care professionals.
More time outdoors mixed with heat, humidity, sunscreen, and facial products create the perfect environment for bacteria, organisms and maskne. However, a few simple changes to your mask-wearing and skin-care routine can make a big difference in getting rid of and preventing maskne. Here are some simple tips:
- First it’s important to find the right mask for your skin type. For dry sensitive skin, a paper mask like a disposable surgical mask works the best. For people with more oily acne prone skin, I recommend a light natural breathable fabric mask like a 100% cotton material that can help absorb moisture. These people should avoid heavy synthetic masks like polyester and rayon which can increase sweating.
- Wash your masks often. Masks should be treated like underwear, wear them once and wash them after every use. Also, make sure you wash the mask before you use it for the first time. Ideally, masks should be washed with dye-free, fragrance-free detergents and fabric softeners, and completely dried after every use. It’s also helpful to send them through the double rinse cycle and avoid dryer sheets that may contain irritating mica particles.
- Use gentle skincare products on your face: Wash your face twice a day using fragrance-free products. Over the counter liquid cleansers like Cetaphil and Cerave are great options. Use your fingertips to wash your face and avoid wash rags, buff puffs and other harsh mechanical scrubbing devices. If you are more prone to breakouts, don’t use products that contain cocoa butter or coconut oil. Make sure to allow your skin to fully dry before putting your mask on.
- Try to avoid oil-based foundations or makeup: Makeup can still be worn but try not to be heavy handed during application. Lightweight, water-based products underneath the mask can act as a protective barrier and prevent chafing. Look for labels that say oil free, fragrance free, water based and non comedogenic. Look for companies that promote hypoallergenic products like Almay, Neutrogena and Clinique.
- Treat acne breakouts at night only: When it comes to maskne, spot treatment while wearing a mask can lead to even more irritation and inflammation. Try gentle over the counter products that contain glycolic or salicylic acid and avoid products with benzoyl peroxide or retinol bases that tend to be more irritating.
Finally, if none of the above suggestions is working and you are still breaking out it’s time to see a dermatologist. We can prescribe strong but gentle products that can effectively clear your acne and reduce scarring.
Wearing a mask in public has become our new normal because it is one of the best ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19. If you can’t seem to manage your maskne with the suggestions above, give us a call at 330-425-7600 to set up an appointment in Twinsburg or we can treat you by telemedicine.