A: We do too! Masks, while super important to prevent the spread of COVID-19, can be hard on the skin.
You can develop problems like acne or skin irritation. But wait! There are some simple tips to help protect your skin.
Maskne is a much more fun way to describe acne mechanica, a skin condition that develops from heat and friction on the skin. Skin problems can develop from prolonged use of personal protective equipment, like masks and face shields. Irritation comes from friction as well as the trapped moisture from breathing and talking. Common skin problems associated with mask use include acne mechanica, contact dermatitis (irritation from contact with a chemical or substance on the mask itself), and folliculitis (inflammation and infection of hair follicles).
To prevent skin problems, follow these steps:
1) Wash your face. Use a mild, fragrance free soap or cleanser. Avoid cleansers that contain alcohol. These can dry out your skin. Don’t scrub hard. Friction is already the problem. Don’t add to it!
2) Moisturize. This helps hydrate your skin but also is a barrier between your face and the mask, reducing friction. Moisturize your lips too. Petroleum jelly works wonders for this.
3) Avoid makeup. Makeup clogs your pores and mucks up your mask. Who is going to see it anyway? It’s under your mask!
4) Talk with your doc about if you should change or stop any skin care products. Some acne and other skin medications might do more harm than good when you are frequently using a mask.
5) Mask up right! Getting a comfortable, well-fitting mask is key! A mask that is too big or too small is going to rub and create all sorts of problems.
6) Wash your mask. That’s right, no stinky masks! One of our favorite sayings is treat your mask like underwear. Wear it once and wash it after!
If you develop maskne or other skin problems, talk with your primary care clinician for the best way to treat it and prevent it from happening again.
Recommendations from the American Academy of Dermatology on preventing face mask skin problems