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Masks: Good for Protection; Bad for Skin

“Not all superheroes wear capes, but they do wear masks!” It’s a slogan we’ve all become familiar with. Whether you’re wearing a mask because you are on the front lines of this pandemic (we thank you for your service), or doing your part at home and in your community to stop the spread of COVID-19 (we also thank you), mask-wearing has become part of our daily routine, and daily mask-wearing has caused an uptick in worsening acne; or “mascne.”

What is “Mascne”?

Is mascne like normal acne? Well, sort of. When people hear the word “acne” they are most likely thinking about acne caused by a combination of clogged pores, hormones, and C. acnes bacteria. However, this is only one form of acne.

You may be thinking, “Wait, there’s more than one kind of acne??” The answer is yes. Another common type of acne is a form of acne known as “acne mechnica.” This type of acne is caused by occlusion or friction against the skin that leads to skin irritation in the short term. Over time, this continual friction against the skin can lead to inflammation that can block pores and lead to breakouts. The moisture and sweat trapped on the skin when wearing masks can also contribute to breakouts.

Other factors to consider with mascne:

  1. Makeup: Wearing makeup can increase the chance of clogged pores and acne mechnica breakouts.

  2. Humidity: The heat and humidity from breathing into a mask are bad enough but add in increasing temperatures. Warmer months make it more common to experience skin issues due to increased heat and humidity.

  3. Cold, Dry Weather: Skin is likely to be naturally dry during the fall and winter seasons, and friction from a mask will more quickly remove the skin’s natural oil barrier. This dryness and repetitive friction can lead to a breakdown in the skin, and the hair follicles may break open instead of clogging the way they do in the summer.

  4. Sunscreen: You still need to apply sunscreen every day, especially if you’re going to be outside for long hours, but this added layer of protection is also one more product on your already irritated skin, which can contribute to clogged pores. Choosing a lightweight sunscreen or a facial moisturizer with built-in sunblock can help to minimize the number of potentially pore-clogging products beneath your mask.

What you do:

  1. Clean your reusable masks: Wash your mask frequently. Use hypoallergenic detergent to wash your face masks to help avoid residue that can irritate the skin.

  2. Exchange disposable masks daily: Try to avoid reusing disposable masks, especially if they appear dirty.

  3. Simplify skincare: The more products applied to the skin below a mask, the more likely you are to experience irritation and breakouts. Use a gentle cleanser to wash the face each evening.

  4. Skip the makeup: As mentioned previously, fewer products will reduce irritation. If you can skip wearing makeup altogether, now’s the time to do it.

There is no magic bullet when it comes to any kind of acne, but one product that we have found to be extremely helpful with mascne is our acne body spray, which can be applied to the inside of a mask to help prevent breakouts. Salicylic acid (the main ingredient) cleans out the oil and debris in your pores, preventing acne. This trick, although simple, can be very effective.

Contact our office or ask your provider for more information.



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