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Maskne: What it is and Tips to Make it Stop

Maskne is real. Here is what to know about it.
Last update:
26th June 2023
Reviewed by a licensed advisor
lady makeup
lady makeup
Maskne is real. Here is what to know about it.
Last update: 26th June 2023

There is currently an explosion of information, comments and opinions on COVID-19 on the internet and social media. We believe that on serious topics in general, and on public health matters in particular, it is essential that you rely on facts and credible, expert information. Our mission at Alea is to bring you the best possible information and advice, so you can make the best choices for you and your family.

Maskne: Why it happens

The medical term for “maskne” is acne mechanica, a skin condition brought on by prolonged wear of facial personal protective equipment.

Masks impose heat, friction and occlusion on the skin and, when combined with a moist environment from breathing, talking or sweating, this environment can lead to breakouts, dry or itchy skin.

Acne isn’t the only skin condition caused by wearing a face mask. Other common face mask skin problems include:

  • Allergic contact dermatitis: Some manufactured masks may contain a chemical that causes an allergic reaction. Formaldehyde and bronopol can be found in polypropylene surgical masks.
  • Rosacea: Classically worsened by heat and stress, mask-wearing can increase flares.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis: It causes scaly plaques, inflamed skin and stubborn dandruff.
  • Folliculitis: When yeast or bacteria infect hair follicles.

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6 tips to prevent maskne

1: Wash your face first

Your face should always be clean before you put on your mask, to prevent dirt and oil from being trapped on the skin surface. Use a gentle cleanser that is free of fragrance and oil and rinse with lukewarm water.

2: Apply a moisturizer

On top of keeping your skin hydrated, it will reduce friction while acting as a barrier between your face and your mask. Apply moisturizer onto a cleansed face before and after wearing a mask. Try to avoid fragrances amongst other common contact allergens. This may take trial and error to find the right formulation for your skin type.

3: Ditch the makeup

Wearing skin makeup under a mask causes clogged pores and breakouts, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Makeup residue will also soil your mask.

4: Wash your mask

If wearing a cotton mask wash it after each use as its surface contains dirt and oil and can become a breeding ground for bacteria from your nose and mouth.

5: Choose a fragrance-free laundry soap

Fragrances can irritate your skin — you should consider skipping the fabric softener, too.

6: Stay away from harsh products

Medicated skin care products that contain benzoyl peroxide, retinols and salicylic acid will be more irritating to the skin under a mask — be careful about how much and what you use.

How to treat common skin issues caused by wearing a mask

If you are suffering from acne or breakouts, you could consider adding a glycolic acid wash and a light non-comedogenic moisturizer to your pre-mask regimen. If breakouts, redness or swelling still persist, seek medical care with your physician.

If you are suffering from dry skin, you should always apply a good moisturizer to the skin before you put on a mask. After you take it off, consider cleansing your skin and applying a bland emollient.

When to make a doctor’s appointment

If you don’t see a difference in your skin after implementing the skincare tips above or if you note signs of infection such as redness and puss, you should call your dermatologist.

For more moderate to severe exacerbations, there are prescription medications your dermatologist can prescribe you. Don’t forget to check your insurance plan for the coverage of specialist consultations and medications — seeking professional help could be covered!

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This article was independently written by Alea and is not sponsored. It is informative only and not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and should never be relied upon for specific advice.