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Maskne: Why it Happens and How to Prevent it

As COVID-19 began to spread, wearing face masks suddenly became a common accessory to any outfit. While face masks are worn for our protection and for the protection of those around us, they unfortunately may also be the cause of your latest breakout. Maskne, or mask acne, is acne that is caused by frequent mask wearing. Other skin issues that may be caused by frequent mask wearing could include skin rashes and itchiness. I know you’re probably thinking, “I already have to deal with regular acne, now maskne?” No worries! Below are a few tips on how to prevent it. 

Choose The Best Type Of Face Mask: 

Face masks range from cloth masks to N95 face respirators to disposable surgical masks. While snug fitting masks in general are often best, 100 percent cotton masks are suggested by dermatologists because they allow the skin to breathe. In fact, the great thing about cotton masks is that they are washable and reusable.

You may also want to consider using face masks that minimize friction. Silk face masks are great for this, as they help prevent the irritation that may lead to breakouts. 

Of course, ultimately the type of mask you wear is a health decision, and you should always listen first to your doctor’s advice.

Wash Your Reusable Mask:

Masks often collect dirt and oil which can lead to skin irritation and acne. Face masks also trap moisture which creates an environment where bacteria can thrive. To minimize maskne, it’s best to regularly wash your mask using hypoallergenic laundry detergent. According to Dr. Candrice Heath, an assistant Professor of dermatology at Temple University, “treat your mask like underwear and wash it frequently”, she explains in a NY Times article on ways to prevent maskne

Wear Less Makeup: 

We’re not saying to avoid makeup entirely, but taking a small break may be the best option for your skin. While wearing masks, it’s more likely that makeup will clog the pores because your skin may be unable to breathe. Instead, try wearing a tinted moisturizer and sunscreen, it provides light coverage while still being easier on your pores.

Wash Your Face and Apply Daytime Protection and Moisturizer: 

Cleaning and moisturizing your face daily helps to remove any excess sweat, oils and bacteria. Depending on your skin sensitivity, dermatologists recommend using a gentle cleanser as it may help to heal any skin irritation. As for daytime protection and moisturizers, using a noncomedogenic product helps prevent pore blockage and skin breakouts. Daytime Protection and moisturizers can act as a protective barrier to protect the skin from irritation a face mask may cause. 

Take A Break: 

Taking a 15-minute break from wearing your mask every four hours is great to allow your skin to breathe. Obviously, do so in an environment where it’s safe to remove your mask, such as inside your car or in your home. 

Listen to Your Skin 

You may be getting used to face masks a year into the pandemic, but your skin may not be. Maskne requires you to relearn your skin’s needs. It’s important that you continue wearing your mask, but if your maskne continues, follow up with your dermatologist for further recommendations. 

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