People are wearing masks every day, from work to school and stores to restaurants, to help slow the spread of COVID-19. But there is an irritating side effect plaguing many of us: Maskne. This is the term used to describe the acne breakouts that form due to wearing face masks. Here are some things you can do to prevent and treat it so it doesn’t get worse.
If properly fitted, a mask will trap in air and create a humid environment that’s perfect for yeast and bacterial growth. Oil from the skin, saliva, sweat and even nasal mucus can stick to your mask and cause friction and pressure on the skin. This leads to acne mechanica, more commonly known as maskne. Breakouts happen where the mask meets the skin, such as the nose, cheeks and chin.
Maskne isn’t a new thing, as many professions require the use of masks as part of the job. But for the rest of us experiencing this new problem, what can we do?
- Wash your face
Before you wear a mask and after you wear one, wash your face to reduce the bacteria that can lead to breakouts. Choose a cleanser that will not dry out or irritate your skin.
- Exfoliate your skin
Exfoliation is the best way to remove buildup and dead skin and unclog pores.
- Lightly moisturize
Use a light moisturizer before wearing a mask. This serves as a barrier to protect your skin from bacteria.
- Beware heavy makeup
Wearing a light layer of makeup is ok, but makeup is known to lead to breakouts, especially if you’re wearing material against your face for long periods of time. If you can, avoid wearing foundation. If you do wear foundation, be sure to wash it off after removing the mask to remove bacteria so that it doesn’t get trapped into your pores.
- Wear a clean mask
If you use disposable masks, do not reuse them. Throw them away and use new ones each day. If you have reusable, washable masks, wash them after every use. Cotton masks are the most breathable and gentle on skin. Use a fragrance-free detergent when washing them.