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How to Treat and Prevent “Maskne” (Acne Due to Face Masks)

Covid-19 hasn’t just introduced a new normal; it brought new words into our everyday vocabulary as well. From social distancing to self-isolation, and unfortunately “maskne”. As a responsible citizen during the pandemic, sticking to the safety rules and regulations is a must. But you’ve likely had a breakout or “acne” due to your mask – hence “maskne.”

What Is Maskne And What Causes It?

The scientific term for Maskne is “Acne Mechanica.” It is caused due to mechanical friction of the mask’s fabric against the skin. This friction leads to inflammation and irritation that adversely affects our pores and eventually leads to acne. Besides, having to keep your face covered for long periods creates an environment conducive for acne to breed. Oil, sweat, moisture and bacteria get caught in the mask and change the micro-biome of our face, which contributes to several other skin issues apart from acne.

Masks with a snug fit and tight strap like the N95 also leave an indentation and lead to over dry and irritated skin. Re-wearing the same mask over and over without washing it is another thing that adds to Maskne.

While you can’t take off your mask, you still need to catch your Maskne from becoming a “Persistent Dermatitis”. Below are some tips and tricks you can incorporate into your daily skin to prevent Maskne.

Tips to Prevent Maskne

Let Your Skin Breathe:

Take your mask off at moments when you can, especially at home or in the car. Let your skin breathe; it needs time to shed the dead skin cells, and wearing a mask always interferes with this process. The dead skin cells end up clogging pores and eventually cause breakouts. 

Choose The Right Face Mask:

Opt for a lightweight mask such as cotton or silk. Both these materials are gentler and friction-less on the skin in comparison to polyester or rayon. Cotton masks are breathable and soak up moisture. Please be sure to wash it regularly to get rid of the dirt and grime it eventually does accumulate.

Invest In A Face Cleanser:

Wash your face regularly with a gentle cleanser, especially one that has Salicylic acid as an ingredient. Salicylic acid is efficient in reducing dirt, oil and dead skins from pores. Use twice a day to prevent breakouts.

Say No To Harsh Products:

Avoid products that have retinoids, Sodium laurel sulfate (SLS) or harsh chemicals that further irritate the skin. These ingredients can strip away the skin’s natural protective oils.

Go Make-up Free:

It would be best to go natural or focus on your eyes. Keep areas that get covered by the mask makeup-free to prevent Maskne.

Say Yes to Sunscreens:

Despite 75% of your face covered by the mask, don’t skip on sunscreen. Harmful UV rays can sneak through your mask, generate heat and humidity. Opt for a lightweight, oil-free sunscreen for protection against both the sun’s rays and acne.

Keep Cleansing Wipes Handy:

While it may be tempting to wash your face every time you take off your mask, it can over-dry your skin and make it irritated. Use a gentle wipe instead to refresh your face and get rid of sweat on the go.

Moisturizer Is A Must:

To combat dry skin, use a lightweight face moisturizer. A light moisturizer is necessary as heavyweight and oil-based ones can clog pores or worsen breakouts.  A moisturizer will help retain moisture and prevent excess oil production. 

Spot Treat Your Blemishes Away:

Despite you keeping a clean mask and face, there are chances of a breakout, especially if you have acne-prone or oily skin. Address those pimples with topical sulfur-based products or apply 2.5% benzoyl peroxide at night. Spot treatment is excellent for pimples as they deliver a potent dose of active ingredients.

Follow A Regular Skincare Routine:

Up your skincare game to combat breakouts. If you already have an “acne regimen,” stick to it religiously. Either way exfoliating or moisturizing your face on the daily is conducive to keeping Maskne at bay.

Avoid touching your face:

On average, we touch our face 16 times in an hour. Practice good hand hygiene; wash your hands before removing your mask or washing your face. It prevents the spread of the illness and bacteria that promote acne.

Bottom Line

Since wearing masks has now become a part of our lives and isn’t likely to leave in the foreseeable future, we should know how to deal with Maskne. It is essential to practice good mask and skin hygiene along with hand hygiene to stop the spread of both coronavirus and acne outbreaks.

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