Solution to the “Maskne” Crisis

Writer: Catherine

Editor: Megh

Visuals: Sarah

In the world of COVID-19, face masks have become a necessity. It now seems impossible to picture a world where they were not an essential part of anyone’s wardrobe. While General Community Quarantine (GCQ) has allowed adults to go out for essentials, it requires everyone to wear masks. However, one main side effect is clear: “maskne” –  a newly coined COVID term for skin irritations caused by wearing masks. These include your skin breaking out, causing pimples and blemishes near your nose and mouth. 

How does maskne occur? 

According to Dr. Bowe via CNN, the main cause of this acne can be attributed to the new environment that your skin is exposed to when wearing a mask. The scientific term for “maskne” is “acne mechanica”, which is caused when the skin undergoes friction with fabric. Thus, when the hair follicles on your skin are pressed against the fabric, it inflames the follicles and creates pimples around them. These inflammations are worsened as governments impose mask mandates, trapping the skin inside the mask. The moisture created when exhaling is confined to the space between your skin and the mask, ultimately creating an oily, moisture rich environment – the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to thrive and grow. This eventually leads to more bacterial or fungal infections that can in turn exacerbate the acne. 

How do you treat maskne? 

Most treatments rely on chemical products to blast the acne, but these have the potential to worsen your skin by damaging the skin barrier and increasing its sensitivity. Thus, it becomes difficult to treat them with the usual methods and the best we can do  is to instead focus on preventing maskne. Here are some easy and simple preventive measures from experts:

Wash your mask

As dirt, sweat, and oil can easily accumulate on your mask, the first and easiest step is to wash your mask. If you are using cloth masks, make sure to wash them often as you would with your clothes. If you are using disposable face masks, make sure to change them often. 

Take a break from makeup

Another tip is to take a break from makeup. Skin products such as makeup can mix with the sweat and oil entrapped in your mask, ultimately wreaking havoc on the skin. Experts suggest using quarantine as a time to reduce your makeup routine and give your skin a breather! 

Simplify your skincare routine

Lastly, it is beneficial that you simplify your skin care routine. Condense your routine to gentle cleanser and mild moisturizers. According to Dr. Hollmig, using products with fewer ingredients is better and using moisturizers will help protect your skin from friction with the mask. 

If acne persists, doctors recommend using low concentrations (2.5% or 5%) of over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide on the spots. If you have black or brown skin, topicals with glycolic acids are also recommended. If this problem continues, meet with your dermatologist and get it checked. 

While acne may not seem like a big issue, let’s face it: it is a real struggle and still catches our attention whenever we look at ourselves in the mirror. Instead of covering it with thick makeup, we hope you can use these tips from experts to prevent maskne and bring back your healthy and clean skin.

References:

LaMotte, Sandee. “’Maskne’: Why Your Face Is Breaking out under Your Mask and How to Stop It.” CNN, Cable News Network, 25 June 2020, edition.cnn.com/2020/06/25/health/maskne-acne-covid-masks-wellness/index.html. Rubin, Courtney. “Maskne Is the New Acne, and Here’s What Is Causing It.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 17 June 2020, http://www.nytimes.com/article/maskne-acne.html.