Nowadays every day feels like a struggle. Even getting out of bed can be daunting. And one of the hardest, most frustrating things these days is still having to wear a facemask when we go out as we head into our third year with SARS-CoV-2. Although masks reduce the transmission of infectious diseases, wearing them can also harm our skin by causing maskne.
Maskne, as you’ve guessed, is a new word made by combining the words “mask” and “acne”. Wearing a facemask causes friction and traps humidity. It clogs pores along with encouraging the accumulation of bacteria, oil, and dead skin cells. For people with sensitive skin, prolonged use of facemask can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions that can trigger the skin to form acne. Facial hair complicates the picture further. And as we know, some forms of acne can leave permanent scarring if not treated properly early enough.
PREVENTION STARTS WITH BEST PRACTICES
Practice proper hygiene by simply throwing away disposable masks after every use. If you’re using cotton masks, just make sure to wash them after 1-2 uses. You may also want to take a break from makeup if you start to break out to speed up the process of healing from maskne.
Wash your face with a gentle soap, like CeraVe’s gentle foaming cleanser or an AHA/BHA cleanser in the morning, before going to bed and after taking off your facemask to cleanse your skin from dirt and oil. Choose cleansers that do not contain perfume or alcohol to avoid further irritation. You can also consider using ketoconazole or selenium sulfide dandruff shampoo as face wash.
After washing and cleansing your face, apply a non-comedogenic moisturizer in order to keep your skin hydrated. This kind of moisturizer is highly recommended because it doesn’t block the pores and lessen the chance for you to develop acne. Irritation from wearing a mask can be treated by applying a mild cortisone cream to the affected area along with the moisturizer to soothe down the pain and itching. On the other hand, if you are experiencing a more comedonal type of acne, try a medicated benzoyl peroxide spot treatment or even a moisturizer that contains salicylic acid.
CONSULT A DERMATOLOGIST IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE MASKNE
At the end of the day, it is still highly recommended to consult your dermatologist in order to take a close look at your acne and come up with a customized plan. Perioral dermatitis, a noncontagious facial rash that often looks like irritated bumps, can sometimes be mistaken for acne by the untrained eye. Or perhaps other pandemic-induced changes to your daily routine (such as poor diet) are catching up to you and showing up on your skin. If you’re not sure about your diagnosis, or which skincare products you need to use in order to get better, look for your doctor’s advice to avoid irritation and get quicker results. Worsening, uncontrolled acne may require you to take antibiotics that can only be obtained with a prescription from your doctor.