What Is Maskne?
Maskne sounds like a made-up word, maybe the name of a new of designer dog breed. But doctors from the world-famous Cleveland Clinic confirm that it’s real. Many brave frontline workers were wearing masks before the pandemic, like doctors and nurses. They’ve had to deal with maskne for a long time. But now that mask-wearing has become commonplace, more and more of us have to struggle with this irritating situation.
What Is Maskne?
To protect ourselves and those around us, we’re wearing masks when we have to go out and about. And the same mask material that blocks infectious particles from flowing in and out, also traps in a hot and moist air. That humid environment is fertile ground for yeast, skin mites and other bacteria to multiply. The result is acne, or a flare-up for people already living with rosacea. It can also lead to perioral dermatitis. These are the tiny pimples that show up around your nose and mouth.
On top of acne caused by the mask’s heat-trapping interior, it’s also possible to develop acne in the spots where a mask rubs against your skin. Football players are used to dealing with this – their skin is often affected by their helmets. And this type of maskne is known as “acne mechanica.”
We clearly have to keep wearing masks, so how are supposed to handle this problem? It can be annoying, unsightly, and painful!
As with most health issues, prevention is easier than treatment. Your first instinct might be to keep your skin completely free of lotions, makeup or sunscreen – protect those clear pores! But doctors believe certain lotions can actually provide a helpful barrier between your face and mask, reducing friction and the irritation that comes after it.
Doctors recommend a light layer of moisturizer for those who are acne-prone or have oily skin, and a heavier layer for people with sensitive or eczema-prone skin. A layer of sunblock with zinc or titanium can also provide the protection you’re looking for.
You should also be mindful about the material touching your face. Your mask must be kept sparkling clean if you want to prevent maskne. One easy way to think of your face covering is to think of it like your underwear – both should be changed out and washed at the same frequency. And when you wash it, make sure to use fragrance-free detergent. You don’t want to introduce irritating chemicals into the mix.
The American Academy of Dermatology Association has a great guide with even more preventive tips, including a list of recommended creams and lotions according to skin type.
But if you’re in the unfortunate position of having an outbreak of maskne, first off, you’re not alone! Second, the Cleveland Clinic recommends calming and washing your face with a daily foaming cleanser. For those who are already susceptible to acne outbreaks, they recommend using products with salicylic acid to wash.
One surprising tip we found is to occasionally wash your face with dandruff shampoo. These shampoos have ketoconazole or selenium sulfide, chemicals that can get rid of excess yeast, while also calming the surface of the skin.
The simple approach to maskne is two-fold, clean your face and clean your mask. This won’t be a solution for everyone, some of us just have more sensitive skin than others. But for most people, attending to these two areas will go a long way towards keeping your skin clear.
In addition to frequent washing, one of the best things you can do to keep your mask clean, is to protect it with a maskSAFE. A clean mask that gets buried in the bottom of a purse is no longer a clean mask, and those contaminants and irritants don’t belong on your face. Instead, you can get maskSAFE today, by finding the face mask case that’s right for you.
- the maskSAFE Family