You’ve gotten accustomed to wearing a mask whether you’re inside or outside to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, but there’s one side effect you’re not getting used to: breakouts around your nose, mouth, and chin.
These breakouts caused by regularly wearing a mask, aka “Maskne” aren’t new to everyone. According to aad.org, medical professionals and other women and men who wear masks everyday for their jobs have been battling this type of contact acne since masks became part of their uniforms. With the increased importance of wearing protective gear, though, healthcare workers on the frontline of the pandemic have reported multiple skin issues related to this constant use of masks, shields, and gloves.
Some good news is that, unlike the unfamiliar coronavirus, we know a lot about maskne, including how you contract it and how to prevent and treat it. Our expert dermatologists here at our Coast Dermatology & Laser Surgery Center, a full service dermatological center located in Laguna Beach, California, believe you should be able to feel good in the skin you have, no matter what the situation is outside. If you’re battling maskne as much as you are the coronavirus, here’s what you need to know about winning against maskne.
Masks Trap Dirt
Changing your underwear daily and washing it before re-wearing is expected by everyone, but what about for masks? You should actually practice the same level of hygiene for your masks. In fact, if you’re wearing a mask all day for work, you might want to consider changing your mask at least once or twice a day.
You can also consider underwear as an analogy when thinking of mask fabrics, too. While an N95 mask gives the most protection, those masks aren’t necessary or appropriate for consumer wear.
The best non-medical masks are cut from natural, breathable fabrics, such as cotton and silk, rather than thin layers of synthetic fabrics. A neck gaiter might come to mind, but you can stop considering one now. The Washington Post reported that wearing one causes more potential for harming others than by wearing no mask at all. This is because they break respiratory droplets into smaller particles. The best masks for consumers consist of three layers of natural fabric that cover your mouth and nose completely.
Be gentle with your skin
Change your skincare routine to something more gentle. Clean your skin delicately no more than twice daily with a non-irritating, non comedogenic cleanser. It’s best if you find one formulated for your skin type. Ask your dermatologist for a cleanser recommendation if you’re not sure which is best for you.
Don’t forget the sunscreen
Although sunscreen is always important for protecting your skin from the sun, whether we’re in the midst of a pandemic or not, you really don’t want to neglect protecting your skin while you’re outside wearing a mask. The fabric acts as a sun shield, which could mean that you’d be left with a suntanned upper face and paler lower face. Not a look you’d like to sport indoors, mask off.
Wear a light moisturizer
You likely guessed that putting on heavy skin products under your mask could increase your chance of contracting maskne. Your guess is correct. Right now is the time to lighten the load of facial products you use like heavy make-up or greasy lotions. These trap moisture and increase the risk of a break out or irritation.
But that doesn’t mean you should leave your face bear. Wearing a light moisturizer or sunscreen can help decrease friction and also protect your skin. Our dermatologists recommend medical-grade skin care products based on your own skin type and needs.
One benefit of wearing a mask besides protecting yourself from germs is that it intensifies the delivery of the skincare product you’re wearing. This means you’ll receive more hydration from a light moisturizer than you would without wearing a mask. So skip any intense skin treatments, such as retinoids and retinol, on your lower face, and let your mask and light moisturizer hydrate your skin.
Masks Can Cause Friction
As you talk and move your face while wearing a mask, rubbing occurs. This friction might be familiar to you if you’ve ever played sports that required protective gear, and you might have even contracted contact acne from your sporting days. When any gear (or mask) rubs against your skin for a long time, this friction can be irritating enough to trigger an acne breakout.
When you add in moistness caused by sweat or, often in the case of masks, exhalations, you’ve created a perfect environment to grow bacteria that feasts on the oils and dead skin in your pores. Next will come inflammation and a break out. This friction and irritation from your mask could also trigger a flare of rosacea or eczema.
Treat your maskne
Even though your lower face isn’t seen by many people right now, you don’t have to tolerate pimples, cysts, rosacea, or rashes. Our team complies with the CDC’s COVID-19 protocols to ensure your safety when you come in for an office visit. If you have developed maskne, our dermatologists can examine your skin to recommend therapies, such as topical or oral medications and in-office treatments.
If left untreated, maskne can leave scars, just like regular acne does. At Coast Dermatology and Laser Surgery Center in Laguna Beach, CA, we offer state-of-the-art procedures to help with diminishing acne scars. With our Fractional CO2 Laser, scar revision, and dermal fillers we are able to provide comprehensive services that allow for your to reduce the appearance of acne scars.
Schedule A Consultation With Coast Dermatology and Laser Surgery Center
Don’t suffer silently under your mask. Get your acne or rosacea under control at Coast Dermatology and Laser Surgery Center. Contact our Laguna Beach office today.