Everyone has to wear a mask when going out in public these days. It’s essential to keeping the spread of COVID-19 to a minimum and for keeping people healthy. Unfortunately, there is another unpleasant side effect to this situation than just being unable to smile at someone you cross paths with as you go about your day: “maskne” – so termed on social media for the breakouts of acne around the mouth and nose that happen as a result of wearing your facemask for an extended period of time.

Acne mechanica, “maskne”, is the result of friction against the surface of the skin which irritates hair follicles and can cause an acne flair. This can lead to embarrassing, if not painful, situations when combined with how facemasks trap moisture against the skin which can clog pores and trap bacteria, environmental heat and/or humidity, and stress resulting from the pandemic. Since we can’t stop wearing masks for the foreseeable future, there are some ways to help reduce the problem.

Consider the type of mask you use, balancing the level of protection with the material it’s made of (Dermatologists suggest cotton, as it allows skin to breathe). Make sure you wash and completely dry your mask regularly, have more than one so you are able to rotate while the others are in the wash, and don’t forget to change into a clean mask immediately after sweaty activities such as exercise. Use gentle skin products that do not have harsh chemicals, heavy ingredients, and are fragrance free. Have a regular skin care routine that includes a gentle salicylic acid product to treat the acne and make sure to hydrate your skin. Wait at least 15 minutes after moisturizing before putting your mask on to allow skin to dry. Lastly, consider limiting the amount of makeup you wear.

 You’re not alone and the situation can be helped!