Maskne: What it is and how to get rid of it

Our new normal requires us all to wear masks regularly to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and often for long periods of time at work, school and inside businesses. Regularly wearing masks could lead to skin problems such as breakouts and rashes known as “maskne,” or mask-related acne. Read on to learn about what you can do to prevent and treat it.

While it may be new to many of us, “maskne” is something that many people have to deal with when they wear masks regularly. Stress from the pandemic and irritation from the mask makes this condition more likely.

A well-fitting mask can trap in a lot of air, creating a humid environment for yeast and bacteria to grow. Oil from the skin, nasal mucus, saliva and sweat can get on your mask and can lead to irritation and skin conditions that cause pimples and red, pus-filled bumps to appear around the nose and mouth. You’re more prone to maskne if you have rosacea, acne, eczema, allergies or sensitivity to humid or dry air.

A light moisturizer can help your skin by serving as a barrier against irritation. Wearing a light layer of makeup is OK as well. Heavy moisturizers or layers of makeup can cause problems. If you have a beard or other facial hair and have to wear your mask for a long period of time, use a toner with alpha hydroxy acid to help prevent skin problems.

Fabrics can affect maskne as well. Lightweight fabrics offer more breathability but not the level of protection necessary to block out COVID-19. Tightly woven fabrics with multiple layers offer the best protection, but they can cause irritation or a warm, humid environment ripe for maskne.

If you have re-usable masks, it’s important to keep them clean. Wash them with fragrance-free detergent and rinse twice before drying after every use. Be sure to wash washable masks before you wear them to remove any factory finishes and reduce the possibility of irritation.

Unscented, gentle soaps and water are recommended when cleansing your face, followed by a good moisturizer at night. If your skin is acne-prone, use a cleanser with salicylic acid. If you use products with benzoyl peroxide, know that that may bleach or stain your fabric mask. Taking a break from makeup such as foundation may be a good idea to keep from clogging your pores or aggravating any skin condition.

If you are concerned about maskne or have other skincare concerns and live in the West Orange, NJ, area, book a consultation with Dr. Citron with Advanced Dermatology Associates, P.A, call (973) 243-2300 today.