Acne affects 50 million people in the U.S. and the pandemic is making the issue worse. Wearing face masks is one of the best defenses against COVID-19 but not always great for the skin. You may have started to hear the term “maskne” by now. Maskne = Mask + Acne. However, “maskne” should never prevent you from wearing a face mask. We wear face masks to cover our noses and mouths in order to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.
Maskne is typically acne mechanica, caused by the mechanical friction of the mask fabric rubbing against your skin. This type of acne is common amongst football players or athletes where the helmet or chin straps rub the skin. It creates a warm, moist environment for extra skin oils and bacteria to develop and clog pores.
Maskne is not limited to people with oily or acne-prone skin. Masks can worsen skin issues that already exist or cause new ones. Moisture, sweat, and dirt that gets trapped in a mask while we are breathing inside of it can cause acne. Summer heat and humidity also lead to an increase in the amount of stress and oil production in the skin. Healthcare and other frontline workers are most at risk of maskne because their masks are tighter fitting and they are wearing them for longer hours throughout the day.
Here are a few tips to help fend off maskne:
- Wear disposable face masks. If you prefer reusable masks, make sure to wash them often. Silk face masks are a good option because they create the least amount of friction against your skin.
- Cleanliness is key: Aside from washing your face mask often, remember to cleanse your face day and night with our dermatologist-approved VI Derm Beauty Gentle Purifying Cleanser.
- Decrease your makeup use. All you need is a moisturizer to not only moisturize your skin, but also to protect it from mask friction. Don’t forget to use sunscreen every day even if your face is covered. The VI Derm Beauty SPF 50 Daily UV Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen is a great option that does not leave a white cast on your skin or your mask.
- If you have a breakout or feel one developing, do NOT pick or pop it. You can opt to wear acne spot treatments under your mask since no one can see them anyway.