Thanks to Coronavirus, wearing a mask is now a must for our everyday lives. Though it can help prevent contracting COVID-19, it may also cause new outbreaks of acne.
Wearing masks can irritate the skin, clog pores and eventually flare acne breakouts. Keep reading and learn how to deal with “maskne” – a new term to describe acne breakouts caused by masks.
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How do face masks cause acne?
It is no secret to medical workers that wearing masks is mandatory on the job, however, this fact does come with its downfalls. Since the start of this pandemic, medical experts have encouraged the public to wear masks in public when social distancing is not possible. Although this may prevent serious health risks, it does heighten the risk of developing acne breakouts.
Here are the three main reasons why masks can cause acne:
While wearing a mask, there is constant chafing and friction that can cause irritation to the covered area of the face. It could be described as something like a rug burn. The areas at most risk to be affected are the bridge of the nose and where the elastic bands meet behind the ears. As time goes on while wearing the mask, the tight fit of the mask will put enough pressure on the skin causing irritation and even blisters.
Most materials that face masks are made up of are liquid absorbents. With these, the natural oils and moisture of the skin are absorbed leaving the affected area dry and sensitive. Also, dust and small particles like residue from fabric conditioners and detergents get stuck underneath the mask’s fabric, which could later cause irritation.
When the irritation turns into inflammation, one can see redness, dark marks, peeling, and even dry patches on the skin. This could become worse if you have conditions like rosacea or psoriasis because the inflammation could make it flare up.
Due to the mask covering a large area of your face, occlusion from a mask is also an issue. With the pores on the covered area getting clogged, pimples or acne cysts are a big possibility.
That happens because as your breath gets trapped below the mask, it makes the surface of the skin moist and warm. This type of environment is the best place for regular acne to develop. Besides that, occlusion could also lead to folliculitis, a kind of breakout that happens when bacteria infects hair follicles.
8 Tips to Prevent Acne
Preventing acne breakouts caused by wearing a face mask is just like performing any other skincare regimen. But since some of us are not that accustomed to wearing masks every day, here are our 8 tips to prevent acne:
1. Wash your face properly, all the time!
One sure-fire way to prevent pimples is to always see to it that you remove excess oil, sweat and dirt from your face, daily, which could be done by washing your face thoroughly. Just a reminder though, washing your face more than twice daily could result in worse acne breakouts.
Remember that the dirt and oil get trapped in your skin under the mask, thus resulting in breakouts. That is why you make sure that you wear clean masks and wash your face well after taking it off.
To wash your face after wearing a face mask:
- Use warm water, wet your face. Make sure not to use hot water.
- Use a mild cleanser or facial wash. Strong soaps or a cream wash can irritate your face more. Apply the cleanser in a gentle circular motion using your fingers.
- Rinse your face well and pat dry using a clean face cloth or towel.
Also, take note not to rub your skin or use excessive facial creams after washing your face.
2. Make sure that your skin is moisturized.
Keeping your face moisturized and hydrated is key to prevent acne. That then needs to be a top priority when you are wearing a mask daily because moisturized skin acts as a barrier to friction from the mask.
However, be advised, not all moisturizers are suitable for all skin types. Especially while wearing a mask. Some moisturizers may contain synthetic fragrances, oil and other ingredients that cause skin irritation and later result in acne.
To prevent acne, use non-comedogenic, fragrance-free moisturizers each time after you wash your face.
3. Drink lots of water, stay hydrated!
Moisturizers are not the only way to keep your skin hydrated. In fact, drinking lots of water is a big factor in keeping your skin moisturized. Take note that when you are dehydrated, your skin releases more oil, resulting in clogged pores, inflammation, redness, and eventually, acne.
Just like what we’ve been taught since childhood, drinking at least eight 8 glasses of water per day is a must. This helps to keep your body well-hydrated. If you are doing strenuous work, or you spend a lot of time in a hot, humid environment, you should drink more. Just be sure that you take note of how to properly wear masks when drinking your water!
4. Skip the makeup
Makeup has been part of a lady’s arsenal since forever. But when wearing masks during this pandemic, better skip the makeup and wear none at all.
Since masks act as occlusive barriers, wearing makeup could only lead to clogged pores and later, into acne breakouts. In the event that you need to really put on some makeup, go for the least possible option. Avoid heavy foundations and oil-based makeup.
Better yet, why not go au naturel? After all, residue from makeup can soil your mask fabric, thus rendering your mask less effective. Be safe, skip the makeup.
5. At all costs, don’t touch your face
You are wearing a mask for the sole purpose of protecting yourself from aerosol particles that may contain the COVID-19 virus. Now, even though you aren’t inhaling it, you might actually have the virus stains on your hands. So don’t ever dare to touch your face when wearing a mask.
Better wash your hands first with germicidal soap for no less than 20 seconds before touching your face.
6. Stop popping pimples
Sometimes, even if you have done all you can to prevent acne, zits and pimples still find their way to grow. And the urge to pop them is somewhat irresistible.
When wearing masks, having pimples indeed is somewhat inevitable. As much as possible resist the temptation to squeeze whiteheads on your nose or the sides of your lips. If you do so, you can prevent inflammation and clogging of pores, thus avoiding a worse pimple problem.
7. Avoid certain foods
Remember when your mom used to tell you that eating junk food would lead to pimples. Well, she may have had a point. Eating food with high glycemic content can actually induce acne breakouts.
As much as you are doing your part in cleaning your face, moisturizing and the like, having bad food choices will do you no good. Avoid high glycemic foods like chips, baked goods and soft drinks.
8. Wear only clean masks
Dirt and oil from your skin plus bacteria from your mouth and nose will end up on your cloth mask. This means that reusing a mask is not at all healthy. Take note that masks are not meant to be reused (especially surgical masks), since there is no proper way to clean them.
You need to keep a rotation of masks if you are using reusable ones. Just a reminder, cloth masks are a big no! They offer very little to no protection at all from the coronavirus and reusing dirty ones could only lead to acne outbreaks.
How to Treat Other Skin Issues Caused by Wearing Face Masks
As mentioned above, continuous and the daily wearing of masks can lead to some irritation and many other skin problems. Acne is not the only problem that you might come across in this pandemic season.
If you are feeling some other problems and irritations on your skin here are some things that you can do:
- Skin peeling and dryness
- When it comes to mask irritation, one of the first signs would be skin dryness and peeling over time. Because of the constant friction and dehydration of the skin, while wearing masks, the skin underneath the mask becomes prone to sensitivity, dark marks, redness, and breakdown. Remember to always use oil-free and non-fragrant moisturizers to keep your skin hydrated.
- Skin swelling and redness
- You may notice slight redness over your face after taking off your face mask. It is sometimes accompanied by slight skin swelling and bumps in most areas that are in direct contact with your mask. Using a cold compress may be helpful in reducing the redness and swelling. Adding a small amount of over-the-counter hydrocortisone is advisable as well.
- Skin breakdown
- Over time, you may notice breaks or fissures in your skin. That may be caused by too much dryness in the skin, which could later be very irritating if mishandled. Try covering these cracks and breaks in the skin with a hydrocolloid dressing every time before putting on a mask. Also, after taking off your mask, use a mild facial wash.
Related article: The Fastest Way to Clean Up Acne Scars
How to Manage Acne
As we all have different skin types, it goes without saying that some people, even if they are well prepared to prevent acne, may still experience breakouts.
If this is you, learning how to manage your pimples is vital. There are many ways to do this. When you have bad acne despite following all the steps to prevent it, you may need to use prescription-strength treatments, which may include:
- Antiandrogen agents
- Topical retinoids
- Oral contraceptives
- Oral isotretinoin
Please follow the necessary precautions when using prescription-strength treatments. Improper use of these can cause serious side effects. It is advisable to contact your dermatologist first so that you could learn which treatment is best for you.
Acne Treatments for Breakouts
When treating acne breakouts, chemical peel treatments are the top choice in the medical aesthetics world. With the use of these treatments, acne-causing bacteria and inflammation are targeted. The inner part of the skin is targeted using a small molecular product size while exfoliating the outer layers of the skin. By damaging the sebaceous glands, the skin produces less sebum or oil, resulting in less acne.
Drainage and Extraction
Some acne outbreaks may need the attention of a professional. When it comes to a severe breakout, drainage and extraction of large acne cysts is a must. This is only done if medication and previous options for treating acne are not at all working. Anyone who is concerned about the severity of their acne should visit a doctor or dermatologist.
Related article: How Can I Fight Acne Scars?
When should I see a doctor?
Take note that the preventive measures mentioned above are only to help you avoid as much acne as possible while wearing a mask. However, here’s what you should do when you have breakouts or skin damage that does not respond to your skincare treatments:
Contact your dermatologist at once. In this season of the pandemic, it is good to know that some dermal clinics may offer virtual consultations.
Whenever you notice an abnormal growth in numbers of your acne or if you have severe skin damage, seek immediate help from your dermatologist.
Every one of us would get pimples now and then. There are a lot of factors that may cause acne breakouts such as hormones, genetics, diet and stress. In this time of the pandemic, wearing masks daily could trigger acne as well. It is very important to have an acne prevention plan in place.
You can learn more about what you can do to prevent acne by consulting a dermatologist. Canada Med Laser is here to help you prevent acne breakouts. Here at our medical spa, we offer the most effective and best skin treatments to help you prevent acne. Contact us today and let us fight maskne together!