Masks play a vital role in reducing the spread of the coronavirus. Masks can also be hard on your skin, causing problems that range from acne and peeling skin to rashes and itchiness. You may have heard this referred to as maskne, but what exactly is it and do masks actually cause breakouts?
What Is Maskne?
A new skin issue has arisen since wearing masks has been made mandatory, "maskne." The name is means acne caused by wearing a mask.
While many of us may think these breakouts come solely from wearing a mask, that is not always the case, according to May J. Chow, MD, dermatologist at Specialty Physicians Of Illinois in Olympia Fields.
"The most important thing about this is that it is more than what meets the eye. You may think it's an acne breakout, but it could be what we call contact dermatitis," Dr. Chow said.
What Causes Maskne?
The medical term for maskne is acne mechanica, a type of acne that occurs due to friction, excess heat and pressure on the skin. This type of acne breakout can happen when the skin is rubbed, squeezed or stretched. However, this is not the only reason that people may break out after wearing a mask.
Can Masks Cause Other Skin Issues?
People should differentiate, when they wear a mask, between the different types of skin issues and what can be causing them, Dr. Chow said.
"It can be something different than acne, like chronic dermatitis from the mask and the chemicals in the mask," she said.
Knowing the cause of your skin issues is helpful because you can know how to properly treat it.
"People sometimes think their breakouts are just acne and they keep using acne medications, which can cause more problems," Dr. Chow said. "The key thing is, if you develop any kind of breakout, don't make your own diagnosis, seek dermatologist to help."
Masks Tips To Avoid Skin Problems
Dr. Chow stressed how important it is to wear a clean mask to avoid skin issues.
"Change your masks frequently," she advised. "If you wear paper masks, change them every day. If you wear cloth masks, wash them often."
To help prevent skin problems from developing under your mask, the American Academy of Dermatology suggests these tips.
Cleanse and moisturize your face daily
Gentle skin care can prevent skin problems. When washing your face, use a mild, fragrance-free cleanser. Dry skin is a common face mask skin problem. Applying moisturizer adds a protective layer that can reduce dryness.
You can prevent breakouts from your moisturizer by using a moisturizer formulated for your skin type. When selecting moisturizer, follow this guide:
- Oily skin (or when weather is hot, humid): Gel moisturizer
- Normal or combination skin: Lotion
- Dry to very dry skin: Cream
If you have acne or tend to break out, you can still use a gel moisturizer.
Skip the makeup when wearing a mask
Beneath a mask, makeup is more likely to clog your pores and lead to breakouts.
If you do wear makeup under your mask, use only products labeled "non-comedogenic" or "won't clog pores."
Avoid trying new skin care products that can irritate your skin
Wearing a mask for even a short time can make your skin more sensitive. To reduce skin problems, avoid trying harsh products, such as a chemical peel, exfoliant, or retinoid, for the first time.
Use less of certain skin care products if your face becomes irritated
When you cover your face with a mask, some skin care products that you've used in the past may irritate your skin.
Wear the right mask
A snug, comfortable fit reduces skin problems. If the mask feels too tight or slides around on your face, it can irritate your skin. You're also more likely to adjust a poorly fitting mask. When you touch your mask, you can transfer germs to your mask and your face.
The fabric is also important. Avoid synthetic fabrics, such as nylon, polyester, and rayon on the layer that rests against your skin. These are more likely to irritate your skin and cause breakouts.
Continue the treatment plan that your dermatologist created for you
If you have a skin condition, such as acne or rosacea, it's especially important to follow your treatment plan. This can help keep the condition under control.
By Ariel Anderson
Social Media Specialist