Tips to Fight Maskne

December 02, 2020

Skin Condition Caused by wearing face mask: maskne


For medical professionals,  “maskne” is not exactly a new concept, but the complaint has certainly worsened for this community now that they have to wear a mask (and sometimes double up) for an entire shift (12-16hrs) without removing it, maskne is becoming a real problem.  I can certainly attest to this pesky problems from my days as a dialysis nurse.  For the rest of the population, it is new and becoming more wide spread.  The question of  

Maskne: What it is and why does it develop?

The medical term for “maskne” is acne mechanica, a skin condition brought on by prolonged wearing of facial mask or covering.  Masks exert heat, chafing and block the skin.   Combine this with a moist environment from breathing, talking and/or sweating, this is a recipe for breakouts.  In additon, Pores get clogged and can become pimples or acne cysts. Compounded by, the prolonged occlusion, heat and sweat can cause the skin to become dry, itchy and raw. 


Acne, isn’t the only skin condition reported by mask wearers.  Other common face mask skin problems include:

  • Contact Dermatitis: Some masks may contain a chemical that causes an allergic reaction. Example: Formaldehyde and bronopol can be found in polypropylene surgical masks.
  • Rosacea: Classically exacerbated by heat and stress, and mask wearing can increase flares.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis:Causes scaly skin, inflamed skin and stubborn dandruff.
  • Folliculitus: When yeast or bacteria infect hair follicles.



 6 Tips to prevent to prevent face from mask irritation/acne

  1. Wash your face first – Use a gentle cleanser that is free of fragrance and oil and rinse with lukewarm water. “This prevents dirt and oil from being trapped on the skin surface, which cause breakouts,” Dao says. “Your face should always be clean before you put on your mask.”
  2. Apply a moisturizer – Not only will this keep your skin hydrated, it will also act as a barrier between your face and your mask, reducing friction. Apply onto a cleansed face before and after wearing a mask. Dao says to look for moisturizers that contain ceramides and hyaluronic acid, which will provide extra protection. Take care to avoid fragrances amongst other common contact allergens. This may take trial and error to find the right formulation for your skin type. 
  3. Ditch the makeup – Wearing skin makeup under a mask causes clogged pores and breakouts, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Makeup residue will also soil your mask.
  4. Wash your mask – If wearing a cotton mask wash it after each use as its surface contains dirt and oil and can become a breeding ground for bacteria from your nose and mouth. 
  5. Choose a fragrance-free laundry soap – Fragrances can irritate your skin — skip the fabric softener, too.
  6. Stay away from harsh products – Medicated skin care products that contain benzoyl peroxide, retinols and salicylic acid will be more irritating to the skin under a mask — be careful about how much and what you use. 


How to treat mask related skin issues at home

  1. Consistency with skincare is key.  If you are not faithful to taking care of your skin daily, none of the advice below is going to help long term.  After all, you will be wearing a mask for the foreseeable future.  Design a skincare regimen you can keep up with.
  2. Acne or breakouts – Add a gentle glycolic acid exfoliant weekly.
  3. Add a serum with Hyaluronic acid & Ceramides: locks moisture into your skin, which helps prevent dryness and irritation. It may also help protect your epidermis from environmental damage  
  4. Apply a light “non-comedogenic” (pore clogging) moisturizer to your pre-mask regimen. 
  5. Apply of leave-on skin care products when you are not wearing mask at home. 
  6. Dry skin – Always apply a good moisturizer to the skin before you put on a mask. After you take it off, cleanse the skin and reapply moisturizer.
  7. Wash your mask every time you use it.
  8. If you have sensitive skin, consider using a laundry detergent with no fragrances or dyes
  9. Disposable mask can have chemicals that are causing skin irritation.  Evaluate the brand you are using (professionally there may not be a ton of options.   You may be able to find a filter to insert and reduce some of the problem.
  10. If  you do not see any difference with breakouts, irritation, redness or swelling persist after applying the ideas above,  It may be time to consider making an appointment with a doctor or dermatologist.  


Select a skin care routine that includes botanical ingredients and sensitive skin in mind.  This will help lessen mask-related skin irritation.



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