Your Guide to Maskne Prevention
If you’re like most people the term maskne sounds like a catchphrase from a generic anime character. However, there is such a thing as maskne and as a result, there is maskne prevention. So what is maskne? Well, you’re probably familiar with it seeing as we’ve been in a pandemic for about a year now. Maskne is acne around the mouth, nose, chin, and cheeks caused by frequently wearing a mask.
Maskne is the most common type of acne known as acne mechanica. This type of acne occurs when a surface is rubbing against the skin causing irritation. This type of acne is the same type that a helmet might cause. Due to COVID-19, the American Academy of Dematology coined the phrase maskne and released information on the subject in 2020. The population hit hardest by this now frequent skin condition is health care workers.
In order to provide the most sterile environments possible for patients, health care workers often wear two to three layers of masks that are tighter and worn longer than most professions. A study in the NYTimes stated that at least 83 percent of healthcare workers in Hubei, China, suffered skin problems on the face. The truth is that masks create the perfect breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria. They can make preexisting conditions worse and cause new issues to arise. With summer just around the corner, the added heat and humidity are likely to worsen overall maskne.
So how do we navigate around masks? We can’t exactly just stop wearing them for the sake of clear skin. Well, because this problem is now so common, there are many people out there trying to perfect maskne prevention. Here are a few tips you could try to keep those pesky pimples off your face:
1. Consider the type of mask you wear
Dermatologists suggest a 100 percent cotton mask for the best combination of protection and skin breathability. Cotton stays cooler than most materials and allows moisture to escape. However, it is important to remember to wash your reusable masks regularly and not use reusable masks repeatedly.
“You need to treat it like underwear and wash it frequently...You don’t want all of that oil and sweat and dirt to sit there and then you reapply it to your face constantly,” said Dr. Candrice Heath, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University.
2. Streamline your skincare routine
A gentle non-soap cleanser and a mild, fragrance-free moisturizer are the basics that you need to keep your face clean and hydrated. Aggressive exfoliation and peels could leave your skin too sensitive and make redness and irritation from your mask more likely. Keep in mind that your mask will actually amplify the effects of products.
If you deal with dry or cracked feet you might be familiar with the practice of using vaseline and wearing socks overnight to lock in moisture. Well, the same concept applies to mask-wearing as well. Any products on your skin will be trapped and their delivery will be intensified.
3. Skip the makeup
I mean half of your face is covered anyway. Is it really for the extra time and possible extra breakouts? Makeup is just one more thing that can clog up your pores. Try a sunscreen or moisturizer instead and remember to give it 10-15 minutes to absorb before putting on your mask. Moisturizers work on two fronts, one they help to create a stronger barrier from bacteria, and two they give your face a smoother surface which reduces the amount of friction between it and your mask.
4. Consider other factors
Mask wearing isn’t the only thing that could be causing your maskne. After all, maskne is just acne. Diet, sleep, and stress are all factors that can make acne or maskne worse. It's a stressful time, junk food is comforting but you still have to work, we understand conditions are not ideal. Cut yourself some slack, schedule some me time and just try your best. Living a healthy lifestyle and correcting internal imbalances might just be the best maskne prevention.
For mild cases of maskne, typical acne treatments such as over-the-counter facial washes and topical treatments that contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid may help. (Look for 2.5 or 5% to start) For those with dry and/or sensitive skin, it is recommended to try salicylic acid as it is a more gentle exfoliant and cleanser.
If your maskne is severe, meaning it causes pain or distress, it is recommended that you consult a dermatologist who can prescribe you stronger acne-fighting medication. For severe maskne, typical acne treatments often do not work. For acne mechanica, retinoid medications like Retin-A are often effective, but can also cause skin irritation, worsened by wearing a mask. However, some products for acne/rosacea-type conditions have shown promise.
At least maskne is covered by your mask? But, on a serious note understanding a problem is the first step in resolving it. We hope that this guide could give you a little insight into new mysterious breakouts and if you or someone you know is suffering from this superficial issue share the knowledge! Make sure your mask is clean and breathable.
Don’t cake your face with any materials that will potentially clog your pores, trap bacteria, and cause acne. Use gentle, green and toxin-free cleansers and moisturizers to keep your skin looking its best. And most importantly try your best to live a healthy lifestyle full of self-care!
Written by Kiana St Onge