How To Fight & Prevent Maskne
“Maskne” is the latest buzzword going around, but it’s not a new concept for those who wear masks often, like healthcare workers. That means there IS a solution out there to tackle those pesky pimples, clogged pores, and dehydrated skin you're experiencing.
What is Maskne?
There’s more than what meets the eye when wearing a mask. If you are using it properly, you’ll find the top of the mask rubbing against your nose and the top of your cheeks. Consider this prime spot #1 for “acne mechanica”, aka blemishes caused by the friction, tension, heat from the mask rubbing on your skin when you talk and move about. For a long time, there were only niche communities that would experience this kind of skin condition, like football players who wear a helmet! With the new normal, many of us are experiencing acne mechanica for the first time, and worsening our existing skin conditions.
According to Harry Dao, dermatologist for Loma Linda University Health, acne is not the only skin condition that masks worsen… other skin conditions reported were:
- Allergic contact dermatitis – Some manufactured masks may contain a chemical that causes an allergic reaction when rubbing against the skin.
- Rosacea – Classically worsened by heat and stress, mask wearing can increase flares.
- Seborrheic dermatitis – Masks rubbing against the face can cause scaly plaques, inflamed skin and stubborn dandruff-- if you have facial hair.
- Folliculitis – When yeast or bacteria infect hair follicles.
Why are these skin conditions occurring? When you breathe or talk while wearing your mask, you trap in a lot of hot air, creating a warm and humid environment. While the initial annoyance is just that it will fog up your glasses, the warm environment under your mask is ideal for yeast, bacteria and other flora to grow. An increase in demodex (a type of skin mite that naturally lives on our skin) may be seen, as well as rosacea flare-ups and the development of perioral dermatitis, aka when fine pimples and pustules appear around the nose and mouth.
Although this may sound scary, wearing a mask is a non-negotiable to protect yourself and the people around you. So what’s the best way to deal with maskne?
Wash Your Mask Every Day
Being proactive is the best way to promote a clean, bacteria-free environment and protect your skin. The masks you wear on a regular basis are constantly getting dirty. You wouldn’t put on dirty underwear, so why would you put on a dirty mask? This means washing your reusable mask often with warm water and soap (preferably every day), or disposing of one-use medical masks on the regular (be sure to cut the ear loops before disposing to protect wildlife!) Especially during these hot summer months, dermatologists recommend using masks that are more flexible in structure to reduce friction, and made of lightweight fabrics such as cotton (you can create a simple cloth filter to boost your masks’ defense against COVID-19)
Clean Your Face First
Before putting on your mask, try to always keep your face clean and free from any extra oils, dirt, or even makeup. Since masks are known to be tight and rub against your skin, it creates an environment that promotes dirty skin developing bacteria and yeast, that end up causing those pesky pimples. Combat this by using an exfoliating cleanser like WOW Skin Science Ubtan Foaming Face Wash. It is curated with a naturally powerful blend of exfoliators to rid your pores of impurities, and help brighten your skin tone!
Be sure to seal in your skin’s moisture with an appropriate moisturizer for your skin type (more lightweight if you have oily/acne prone skin, and a thicker hydrating formula for more dry/sensitive skin). This layer of moisturizer will help act as a barrier against friction and tension from the mask to avoid these problem areas from getting worse. If you have certain areas around your face that experience extra friction or chafing, try to add a layer of petroleum jelly or thick balm to create a physical barrier and protect the skin underneath from your mask.
Balance Your Skin
Since the point of wearing a mask is to protect your skin against outside invaders, it makes sense to go for hands-free products that don’t require touching your face. The key to keeping your skin happy is promoting balance in your pores. Replenish your dehydrated skin and balance pH levels with WOW Skin Science Apple Cider Vinegar Mist Tonic. It’s the perfect on-the-go refresher that doesn’t need to be applied with your hands. Just spray, and go about your day!
Treat existing problem areas naturally with essential oils by adding a drop of Rosemary Essential Oil into your moisturizer, or 15 mL of Castor Oil to boost your antimicrobial power. It defends against p.acnes bacteria to fight the root cause of those pimples. It’s best to treat any problem areas at night so your skin can repair itself during sleep, especially if you’re going to be wearing a mask for long periods of time throughout the day.
Stay Makeup Free
If you’re willing to try anything to keep maskne at bay, a key cause of clogged pores could be the makeup you’re using. When you see acne, your first response might be to add more makeup on top of it to try to cover it up, but ultimately, you are doing more bad than good for your skin health. The combination of heavy makeup, oil, and sweat under your mask is prime breeding ground for pimples to pop up.
One of the most important things to try to do if you are experiencing maskne or any other exacerbated skin condition, is to try to keep makeup off of your face, especially on areas that frequently touch your mask. Makeup can irritate skin that is already inflamed and breaking out, while the mask is promoting growth of unwanted bacteria, yeast, etc.--- all in all, it is just a big ol’ mess. It’s best to take a break from the makeup and let your skin breathe, especially if it’s going to be covered by a mask anyway!
At the end of the day, your health is most important, and that includes your skin’s health. Dealing with the new normal means making adjustments to adapt to the new way of life -- pimples and all. It’s best to use the preventative techniques we mentioned, but as life gets in the way, keep in mind our tips to treat pimples as they pop up. Your maskne journey can only go up from here, good luck!