Maskne: Is it for real?
The new normal involves us wearing masks daily and for more extended periods. Wearing masks for prolonged periods can form new skin concerns or can lead to existing skin conditions worse.
For some people, what is under the mask is giving them problems they have never had before. It seems like dermatologists are seeing more patients suffering from mask-related acne or "maskne."
What exactly is maskne?
According to dermatologist, maskne also known as “acne mechanic” is caused by friction, rubbing, and occlusion of the skin by outside forces.1
It appears on the areas covered by the mask and also the areas where the mask and face shields touch the skin.
Why does it happen? 2
- Breathing in and out under a mask increases the temperature and humidity of the face's covered areas.
- This creates an ideal environment for bacteria to grow.
- Wearing a mask causes continuous friction against the skin and damages the outer protective layer of the skin.
- Such damaged skin promotes the bacteria on its surface to easily enter deep into clogged oil glands, causing increased inflammation and acne breakouts (Fig.1).
How to treat maskne? 3
As far as a treatment option is concerned, over the counter products that help resolve the clogged pores are beneficial.
- Use a gentle cleanser
A mild cleanser can benefit the skin by eliminating excess oil, sweat, and bacteria. Avoid cleansers containing alcohol or perfume as these ingredients can lead to irritation and make it harder for the symptoms to heal.
Try to use a medicated cleanser containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid for the maskne, which is more severe. Consult the doctor or dermatologist about the best type of medicated cleanser for sensitive skin.
- Use a non-comedogenic moisturizer
It is recommended to apply a moisturizer after washing the face to keep the skin hydrated. Use a non-comedogenic product, which does not block the pores.
- Apply hydrogel carrier formulations of retinoid/antibiotic combination
Hydrogel carrier topical formulations of retinoid/antibiotic combination can reduce skin irritation by ensuring superior efficacy and better tolerability in addition to providing an optimal wound healing environment. It also reduces skin–textile friction and secondary bacterial infection by providing adequate barrier protection.
Which types of face masks are better for your skin? 4, 5
Healthcare professional does not have the choice of what type of mask they wear on the job. But, if one has a choice and are going out in the community, then look for masks that offer the following:
- A snug but comfortable fit
- At least two layers of fabric
- Soft, natural, and breathable fabric, such as cotton, on the inside layer that rests against your skin.
The fabric is also important. Evade using synthetic fabrics like nylon, polyester, and rayon on the layer rests against the skin. These are more liable to irritate your skin and cause breakouts. Try to wear a mask made from a material that's gentle on the skin and won't trap excess heat. The cotton mask is the most breathable. Wash your mask regularly to eliminate residue from sunscreen, skin care products, and makeup.
Tips to avoid breakouts from acne4, 6
It is necessary to keep wearing a face mask, even if one has a maskne. There are several ways to prevent maskne symptoms. Here are some of the tips to avoid maskne breakouts.
- Wash your face regularly
Continue following the regular skincare routine to keep the skin healthy. This includes washing your face:
- Once in the morning
- Once at night, before going to bed
- After sweating or wearing a mask
Dry skin is a common face mask skin problem. Apply a moisturizer that enhances a protective layer which helps to reduce dryness. To get the most benefit from a moisturizer, it is recommended to use a moisturizer with one of the Ceramides, Hyaluronic acid or Dimethicone.
One can prevent breakouts from moisturizer by using a moisturizer formulated for the particular skin type. When selecting a 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.
Apply moisturizer before and after wearing a mask
- Take a break from makeup
Skip the makeup while you're treating maskne. Cosmetic products such as foundation, concealer, and blush can further clog your pores and prolong healing. Also, try to skip the makeup when wearing a mask. If makeup is necessary, use only products labeled "non-comedogenic" or "won't clog pores."
- Cutting back on products that can irritate your skin
After covering the face with a mask, some skincare products may irritate your skin. Retinoids can irritate your skin, thus, try to apply it at bedtime and don't increase the amount that you apply. Avoid trying harsh products, such as a chemical peel, exfoliant, or retinoid to reduce skin problems.
- Continue the treatment plan that your dermatologist created for you.
It is crucial to follow the treatment plan for a skin condition, such as acne or rosacea, to help keep the condition under control.
Overall, maskne involves acne breakouts from wearing a face mask. It might include irritation, along with pimple-like bumps. Though maskne can be frustrating, it's important to keep wearing face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Regular face-washing, moisturizing, and wearing the right type of mask may help prevent skin problems.
- Dealing With 'Maskne'? Here's How to Help Your Skin, Available at: https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-to-prevent-and-treat-maskne-5078138, Accessed on 1st March 2021
- The Struggle With Maskne Is Very Real, Available at: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-struggle-with-maskne-is-very-real/, Accessed on 1st March 2021
- How to Avoid Maskne (Mask Acne) Breakouts, Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/maskne, Accessed on 1st March 2021
- 9 Ways to prevent face mask skin problems, Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-secrets/face/prevent-face-mask-skin-problems, Accessed on 1st March 2021
- Maskne' Is the Latest Skin Problem — Here's How to Prevent or Get Rid of It, Available at: https://www.everydayhealth.com/acne/maskne-is-the-latest-skin-problem-here-s-how-to-prevent-or-get-rid-of-it/, Accessed on 1st March 2021
- Maskne. How to fight breakouts caused by wearing a mask, Available at: https://lakelifeboutiquespa.com/2020/07/12/maskne-how-to-fight-breakouts-caused-by-wearing-a-mask/, Accessed on 1st March 2021