‘Maskne’ Is a Real Thing – Here’s How to Stop Face Mask Breakouts

The pandemic unleashed a whole new world with changes that we never saw coming. One such development is the “maskne” – mask acne. As if the breakouts caused by pandemic induced stress was not enough, maskne has reared its ugly head.

If you’re thinking that the breakouts are just caused by the stress and anxiety of the pandemic, that might not be it. If you’ve been wearing your mask diligently everytime you left the house (we sure hope you are!) – we bet you’ve noticed a few extra pimples in these specific areas (the bridge of your nose, your cheeks, and your chin) you may be experiencing what dermatologists are calling “maskne.”

What exactly is maskne and why does it happen?

As the name suggests, maskne is a type of breakout that results from wearing a face mask. Maskne is acne formed in areas due to friction, pressure, stretching, rubbing or occlusion. You can see it in the areas covered by the mask and also the areas where the mask and face shields touch the skin.

Prior to the pandemic, this form of facial irritation was primarily experienced by athletes, commonly due to the sweat, heat, and friction in their helmets and straps. We are seeing it more now with people wearing masks for an extended period of time. It is triggered by pores being blocked by sweat, oil, and makeup. For masks in particular, while breathing for hours with the mask on, it creates humidity to form a breeding ground for acne. The friction of the mask can also block and clog pores, leading to the formation of comedones or blackheads.

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How can you prevent and treat maskne?

  • Prevention is always your best bet. If you are wearing a cloth mask, wash it daily.
  • If you are wearing a disposable mask, try to replace it as often as possible or allow it to air out in between uses.
  • If you start developing maskne, first and foremost, be gentle—that means going easy on at-home spa days. People might be overdoing it at home with face masks, scrubs, washes, and toners.
  • Instead, wash your face with a gentle cleanser.
  • Avoid products that are too drying because they will cause the skin barrier to become more compromised.
  • Moisturizing the skin regularly. Many people with acne or redness are hesitant to moisturize and think that will break out more. If you have dry skin, then you have compromised the skin barrier and will be more prone to breaking out and having sensitive skin irritation.
  • Without your mask, your makeup is flawless, tasteful, and a great boost to your confidence. Your foundation, blush, lipstick, and other formulas can mix with sweat, oil, and condensation from your breath to make a heady pore-clogging environment under your mask. Take a break from makeup on the lower half of your face. But feel free to go to town on your eye shadow and mascara!
  • If you haven’t been washing your hands… well, you really need to be washing your hands. The oils and microscopic grime of your hands can introduce irritants to your face. Wash your hands frequently with lukewarm water and soap.

And while wearing your mask out in public right now is essential–especially in social settings where physical distancing is difficult to maintain—remember you can (and should!) take the mask off and give your face a necessary breather when you’re away from other people, like in your own home (provided you’re not caring for anyone ill) and while driving your car.

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