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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: