I have noticed that am itching whenever I am in a mask and my nose, chin and cheek area are breaking out compared to the past especially whenever am having to step out of the house and be outdoors for longer periods of time.
Initially, I suspected it might have been the heat out here(which goes to as high as 48°C) but after trying to investigate further, realized that my skin was reacting to the face mask. There has also been a slight itch and sometimes my skin around the area the mask covers gets a bit scaly.
I am reading more stories of individuals reacting to masks and while wearing them is not one practise that is going away any time soon, let us look into maskne and how to deal with it.
What is maskne? It is simply mask + acne. Maskne is a common term that has now been doing its rounds on social media for a while now in reference to the conversations currently going on regarding face mask acne.
What causes it?
Masks are sealed to protect and prevent the escape of moisture which creates a humid environment around the cheek, nose and mouth area. This makes it much easier for sweat, oils and bacteria to get trapped on your skin, Lo and behold! A breakout. This is according an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania, Carrie L. Kovarik, M.D who is also a member of the American Association of Dermatology (AAD) COVID-19 task force.
Skin care routines such as use of sunscreen, exfoliation, cleansing and moisturizing go a long way in managing acne as they help the skin undergo its natural shedding process. Your pores do not end up clogged because exfoliation and cleansing removes the dead cells while the use of sunscreens and moisturizers keep it protected.
How can you prevent maskne?
Well, I am not here to advocate that you stop putting on masks to protect a potential break out. There are however some simple habits you could adopt to prevent a break out and keep your skin healthy. Our facial skin is very delicate and depending on whether you are dealing with mild or severe acne, you should first consult a dermatologist before using over the counter medication that may irritate your skin and further aggravate your condition.
The choice of mask matters. Grab one that allows you to breathe while at the same time protecting you and others from the spread of COVID-19. Silk and cotton is gentle on the skin and easy to breathe in unlike synthetic which is harsh on the skin according to Dr. Gonzalez. Cloth masks are good too. If you use these make sure you wash them after each use to prevent bacteria from getting into contact with your skin. Please check out some of these cloth masks https://www.self.com/gallery/where-to-find-cloth-face-masks?intcid=inline_amp
Good mask hygiene matters. I have seen people wearing disposable masks for days on end. Then there’s the habit of lowering the mask below the chin when eating or drinking, a habit that has been constantly discouraged by medical experts.
Avoid contaminating the mask by touching especially the inner part whenever you take it out to eat or drink. You might transfer germs from your hands to your face when you put the mask back on. Using deodorant, body splashes and perfumes directly on masks does not do any good.
If you use washable masks, be keen to pick a gentle, fragrance-free detergent. ensure your mask is completely dry as damp and sweaty masks are a breeding ground for bacteria.
Wearing masks with make up on is also playing part in break outs as it clogs your pores. If you do have to wear it, you could skip the area covered by the mask. I believe not everyone who wears Make-up is affected. Just ensure that you properly clean and moisturize your face and however tired you get, going to bed in make-up is a no-no.
Always make sure to wash your face before you put on a mask and after taking it off.
Avoid self prescribing products simply because they work well on other’s. They might end up making it worse over time. I have personally learnt this lesson the hard way. The same goes for natural home remedies especially if your face is sensitive. Avoid doing trial and errors on your face and consult a dermatologist to advice you on some of the products that suit your skin and reduce inflammation and break outs.
Drink plenty of water too.
I mostly use the disposable masks and carry facial wet wipes to wipe my face just in case of an itch.