Whether you’re a working professional or simply protecting yourself and others during the current health pandemic, pretty much everyone has had experiences wearing a face mask. Depending on your daily activities or work responsibilities, you may be wearing a mask all day long, which can take a huge toll on your skin. These changes in your skin can lead to something that we all thought we left back in our adolescence– acne, or better yet–maskne.
As we know, acne can result from bacteria overgrowth from either extremely dry, moist, or oily skin, which clog or irritate your pores and hair follicles. With prolonged use, friction from the mask, and these skin conditions, bumps and redness can erupt around the nose, mouth, ears, and eyes. Common skin issues caused by face masks include:
- Allergic Dermatitis
There are several ways to prevent maskne from occurring. Now if you have already been diagnosed with any of the above conditions by your healthcare provider, it is best that you consult with them for any treatment methods first. However, here are some preventative tips for keeping you skin clear from breakouts.
Just The Right Fit
It’s important to make sure that your mask fits correctly with each use. Wearing a mask too small can lead to increased friction and moisture from sweating and talking. On the other hand, wearing a mask too big can make it ineffective against harmful particles and germs. Particularly those with increased facial or head hair should take this into account as their hair can get in the way of a secure fit. Due to the need for a proper fit, it has even been a regular practice for men to keep a clean shaven face while wearing special masks, including the N95. Therefore, if the mask is intended for work, consult with your occupational professional for a proper fitting. If for personal use, be sure to minimize facial hair, gather head hair to a low or high point so that it doesn’t interfere with proper mask placement, and be sure that the mask isn’t too tight on the skin.
Just The Right Material
Face masks can come in a variety of materials, and choosing the right kind is helpful in reducing the inflammation and irritation of your skin. The more complex masks like surgical, N95s, and other respirators are made up of special materials designed to keep out the smallest droplet and airborne particles, so you may not be able to have a choice if your skin doesn’t agree with the materials. Alternatively, many of the cloth masks sold come in various designs and breathable materials including silk, polyester, cotton, and rayon, and can be a more fashionable way of protection. These breathable materials can reduce the moisture buildup and irritation within the mask. However, this alternative isn’t as protective against small airborne particles and viruses, and shouldn’t be the first choice if you’re in contact with these substances. Nevertheless, if possible, test out the material first and try to refrain from the ones that irritate your skin before long-term use.
Just the Right Surface
As mentioned earlier, the condition of the skin can help reduce maskne. Some people have naturally dry, moist, or oily skin that is only exacerbated by the use of face masks. Even those without abnormal skin conditions can increase their chances of getting maskne by their daily routine. For example, the use of excessive face creams or makeup can lead to unnecessary oily skin. Therefore, if you must use a moisturizer, use a lightweight one after you have washed your face (with a mild soap) and avoid wearing makeup. Moisturizers that are unscented, for sensitive skin, and/or contain vitamins E, A, and zinc are shown to help reduce irritation and improve acne scars. Some dermatologist even suggest lightly applying diaper cream (yes, you heard right) to irritated areas to help reduce moisture and chaffing! Also, make sure you are drinking water throughout the day. Not only does it help you stay hydrated, but your skin too!
Wearing a mask has become a way of life these days, even if you don’t need it for your profession. Most businesses are even making masks mandatory for entry. However, this doesn’t mean that we have to neglect self-care, including maintaining beautiful skin. With the help of your health provider and the few tips listed above, you can do your part and look good while doing it!