Wearing a face mask has become part of our everyday practice in order to halt the spread of COVID-19. Face masks act as a barrier against the coronavirus which spreads through respiratory droplets, and is therefore considered important when one is in public locations, such as restaurants and grocery shops.
Various countries around the globe have still kept it mandatory to wear a face mask when outdoors.
However, the frequent wearing of masks may be irritating to your skin, causing acne, peeling skin, rashes and itching. The term ‘maskne’ was coined to describe this phenomenon.
“Acne mechanica” refers to acne caused by friction and pressure on the skin, such as while wearing a mask. The word “maskne” has recently become a popular term used to describe skin allergies caused by wearing a facial covering or mask due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
What causes maskne?
Your face mask tends to trap a lot of heated air when you breathe or talk. This air, in addition to being unpleasant, produces a warm, humid atmosphere, which is excellent for yeast, bacteria, and other flora, such as Demodex (forms of skin mites that naturally dwell on our skin), to thrive.
Besides trapped germs and yeast, how often you touch your face while wearing a face mask can also contribute to mask acne. Another factor to take note of is whether or not you have sensitive skin, to begin with.
Continuously pressing a mask on greasy, sensitive skin might exacerbate acne outbreaks. The friction of the mask’s fabric on the face destroys the skin’s outer protective layer and makes it more sensitive, leading to increased oil gland blockage and acne.
Symptoms of maskne
The signs of getting mask acne vary among different individuals but general symptoms are:
- Bumps on the face
People may find masks uncomfortable, but they must use them to protect themselves and others against the viruses, especially during this pandemic.
Here are some ways to get rid of it:
Wash your face properly
If you have maskne, rinse with lukewarm water after using a mild, fragrance and oil-free cleanser. This keeps dirt and oil from clogging the skin’s surface and causing outbreaks. Before you put on your mask, make sure your face is clean.
Moisturise your face daily
This will not only moisturise your skin but will also function as a barrier between your face and the mask, minimising friction. Before and after using a mask, apply it to your face after washing.
Continue your treatments
If you’re being treated for a skin problem such as acne, rosacea, or eczema, stick to the treatment plan recommended by your doctor. This usually entails the use of lotions or antibiotics to treat and alleviate symptoms.
How to prevent getting maskne?
It’s better to prevent mask acne from occurring rather than seeking treatment only after you’ve suffered from it. Here are some tips on how you can stop this:
Take a break from makeup
Makeup is more likely to clog your pores and cause breakouts when worn under a mask. If you must use makeup, look for items that are labelled “non-comedogenic” or those that won’t clog up your pores.
Avoid harsh products
Under a mask, medicated skincare products including benzoyl peroxide, retinol, and salicylic acid will irritate the skin more, so be careful how much and what you apply.
Wear your mask the right way
Wearing a mask that fits snugly but comfortably protects you and others from the coronavirus. A tight fit across your nose, on the sides, and under your chin is ideal.
Skin issues are also reduced by a secure, comfortable fit. Skin irritation can occur if the mask is excessively tight or slips about on your face.
You’re also more inclined to adjust a mask that doesn’t fit properly. Germs can be transferred from your mask to your face when you touch it.
If you find that you are unable to find a mask that fits you properly, try using ProxMask’s antiviral face mask. Our face masks are made in an enhanced cone shape that fits well to the face shape while maintaining a comfortable gap between the mask and lips.
Masks made of synthetic materials, such as nylon or rayon, should be avoided. These materials have the potential to irritate the skin.
Wash your masks regularly
If you use reusable masks, be sure to care for them in the right way. Washing it regularly eliminates any oils or skin cells that have accumulated inside the mask, which might cause skin issues.
A cotton mask may be washed in the washing machine or by hand. Both methods are effective in removing bacteria and other debris. Just make sure you use a hypoallergenic, fragrance-free washing detergent.
Wearing a face mask can be annoying but it is one of the best methods to fight against the coronavirus.
Fortunately, maskne is curable. Follow the steps recommended above or get advice from your local dermatologist on how you can conquer this problem wisely. If you’re looking for fabric face masks, ProXmask has a variety of reusable face masks you can choose and customise from.
Yii Change Bong
Medical Officer, Proxmask
Dr Yii Change Bong is an occupational health doctor with demonstrated experience working with the Ministry of Health, Malaysia.
Having worked as a Medical Officer in Hospital Umum Sarawak and Sarawak General Hospital, Kuching for more than 5 years, he holds a strong presence in the fields of occupational health services, medical surveillance, and also in providing medical education.
In 2020 Dr Bong was the COVID-19 taskforce PPE liaison as the person in charge of personal protective equipment for frontline healthcare workers in the hospital during the early stages of the pandemic.