A woman experiencing an acne breakout while wearing her mask.
Healthy Living

Is Wearing a Face Mask Causing Breakouts? Here Are Some Ways to Help Prevent “Maskne”

Jul 16 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and leading medical experts share that wearing a face mask is critical for preventing the spread of COVID-19. In some states and cities, wearing a cloth face covering in public is required. Whether it’s disposable, homemade, or an N-95, wearing masks is the new normal for us as we try to protect those around us from possible infection.

However, you should be aware that wearing a mask regularly may have some negative effects on your skin, such as acne and other irritations. Termed “maskne,” these breakouts can happen when friction and pressure from wearing a mask combine with stress to create an environment friendly to acne-causing bacteria.

Here are a few ways you can prevent “maskne” flare ups.

  • Wash your masks. If you’re using a cloth or reusable mask, be sure to wash it in the washing machine and dry it completely after every use. If you’re using a disposable mask, it’s tempting to re-use it. However, it could be a breeding ground for bacteria, so you should throw it away after wearing it. Cotton masks allow the skin to breathe best.
  • Use gentle skin care products. These don’t have to be expensive or fancy. Light, gentle, non-oily cleansers are best, and look for ones that are fragrance-free. Try to avoid wearing makeup such as foundation when wearing a mask so your skin is able to breathe.
  • Wash your face. Gently wash your face in the morning and at night. Don’t use scrubs or cloths to clean you skin. Instead, just use your fingers. Then, wait at least 15 minutes after applying moisturizer or sunscreen before putting your mask on.
  • Avoid oily products. Heavy oil-containing products can make you sweat quicker and clog your pores. Use moisturizers or makeup products that are lightweight and oil-free.
  • Stick to the basics. Try not to use fancy skin treatments, aggressive acne treatments, or petroleum products. Maskne can be caused by a compromised skin barrier (the top layer of your skin) so continuing to irritate that barrier can cause more inflammation and even more acne. Allow time for your skin to recover and inflammation to reduce before using different products.

It’s very important for everyone to wear face masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Because COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets produced by an infected person – especially when they cough, sneeze, talk or raise their voice — a mask can prevent these droplets from landing on or being inhaled by others. You should also practice other preventive measures, such as social distancing, frequent handwashing and cleaning and disinfecting.

Stay updated on what Mercy Health is doing related to COVID-19.

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