If you type in “Maskne” on google, 3,380,000 hits will flood your screen.
Mask wearing has become synonymous with living in a pandemic. Masks are the first line of defense and crucial in limiting the spread of COVID-19. However, increased numbers of mask wearers and usage over longer periods has seen a rise of skin-associated concerns. “Maskne” (coined from the words mask and acne) has become an umbrella term reflecting a number of skin concerns arising from mask wearing.
Wearing a mask creates a humid environment, which provides a host of organisms (such as bacteria/yeast) the perfect conditions to grow. The combination of micro- organism growth and friction can cause/exacerbate acne, eczema, rosacea and contact dermatitis.
To help combat the effects of mask wearing, you can try the following steps:
General advice for mask related skin irritation:
- Use a gentle cleanser daily.
- Ideally us as soon as possible after removing the mask for the day.
- Look out for ‘suitable for sensitive skin’ and fragrance free cleansers. Top tip, fragrance will be listed as ‘parfum’ on the ingredients list.
- Avoid wearing makeup if possible.
- Apply a cream containing ceramides to help replenish and protect the skin barrier.
- Wash your masks regularly if they’re reusable, if disposable then discard and replace after use.
- Try to decrease, or at least not increase, retinol use.
Those with acne/breakouts:
- Use a benzoyl peroxide wash 2-3 times per week.
- Incorporate an acid such as glycolic acid or salicylic acid,
- Apply a moisturiser cream with a thinner texture. Look out for glycerin as the second ingredient on the ingredients list.
Those with sore/irritated skin:
- Use a cream cleanser that can easily be washed away with water (flannels may irritate due to friction).
- Incorporate hyaluronic acid, applying on damp skin to increase skin hydration. Ensure that you always use a moisturiser on top of hyaluronic acid.
- If your skin is very sore, in addition to a ceramide cream, use an occlusive balm (vaseline) on affected areas. Remember to avoid using it too close to the edge of your mask or you risk breaking the seal and leaving yourself open to infection.
Mask wearing is essential in the current climate, protecting yourself and others from COVID-19. If you are struggling to manage your skin concerns in relation to mask wearing, please speak to a qualified medical or aesthetic professional.