What exactly is maskne (Mask induced acne)
The maskne struggle is real. As face masks are mandatory indoors, the prolonged and consistent use can contribute to a number of skin issues like irritation, blemishes and congested skin. Maskne is the result of constant friction of the mask on the skin, which causes it to become irritated, clog pores, lose water and allows bacteria in. The trapped air beneath the mask, creates a warm, moist environment which is ideal breathing ground for bacteria. Maskne is technically referred to as acne mechanica.
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.
How can you prevent and treat maskne?
Prevention is always best. If you are wearing a cloth mask, wash it daily and change it frequently throughout the day. If you are wearing a disposable mask, try to replace it as often as possible. The KN95 medical masks can irritate pressure points very easily so add silicone strips under the pressure areas.
If you start developing maskne, be gentle. Overdoing skincare can compromise your skin’s protective barrier. Instead, wash your face with a gentle cleanser like Neutrogena oil free face wash and avoid products that are too drying because they will cause the skin barrier to become more compromised. Another good cleanser is the Cerave SA cleanser as it contains salicylic acid which is a great ingredient for oily skin.
For hydration after washing, look for a products with hyaluronic acid and emollients like Cetaphil daily hydrating lotion, really good for dry eczema prone skin.
Treatment options for acne break outs over the counter products that help resolve the clogged pores are beneficial recommends products like Differan Acne gel or LA Roche-Posay Effaclar Adapalene Gel.
Avoid anything with SLS or sodium lauryl sulfate, which is a harsh sulfate that really strips the skin of its natural oils and impairs the barrier. Try to avoid any face scrubs, anything that feels like sand or grit as they damage the skin’s barrier. You can’t use powerful products like alpha hydroxy acids, chemical peels or Retin A to blast the acne because they will further damage the fragile skin barrier, making it more sensitive to the mask’s irritating effects. Don’t use heavy ingredients, like cocoa butter or coconut oil, and skip any kind of oil-based foundation
Wash that mask
If you exercise or sweat during the day with a mask on, then you want to change that mask and put on a fresh, clean mask right away. Ensure your mask fits you correctly to give you protection, not too loose that it rubs or moves and not too tight that it constricts you.