Face masks are essential to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Many Americans wear some type of facial covering to help protect themselves and others with whom they come into contact. One arising problem from wearing a face mask is developing mask acne or what is generally referred to as #maskne on some social media channels.

Maskne is a type of skin breakout that can be caused by the constant friction of the mask material on your skin. Mask acne can also be triggered when your pores are blocked by sweat, skin oils and other bacteria that sit on the area of the skin covered by your mask. In addition, because a face mask can trap your breath within it, the inside of your mask can become humid. Humidity tends to promote bacterial growth around the covered area of your face, which can then lead to acne buildup. For these reasons, it’s important that you take care of both your face mask and skin.

Here are five tips to help reduce the chances of developing mask acne.

Select the Right Mask

There are various types of face masks available on the market such respirators (e.g., N95 and KN95 face respirators), disposable surgical masks and non-medical masks (e.g., DIY/homemade masks). However, not every type of face mask is necessarily right or good for your skin. For this reason, choosing the right face mask is important to help support your skin’s health.

When shopping for a reusable face mask, look for ones with soft, breathable fabric that are washable. Avoid face masks that are made of synthetic fabrics like nylon, polyester and rayon, which are all non-breathable and can be a little rough on your skin. Some dermatologists recommend cotton because cotton will allow the skin to breathe and, in turn, help reduce sweat and oil production within the mask.

Next, it’s important that your mask fits snugly. If your mask feels tight or slides while you’re wearing it, it can irritate your skin and result in a breakout or other skin problems.  Make sure your mask fits your face so that it’s not too tight or too loose, but just right.

Keep Your Mask Clean

Whether you use fabric or disposable face masks, it’s important that your mask is clean. This is because bacteria and dirt can build up overtime on the mask which can irritate your skin and cause acne.

For reusable cloth masks, wash them after each use to remove the dirt, oil and sweat that is collected inside your mask. Follow the washing instructions provided by the manufacturer. If none are provided, the CDC has guidelines on how to properly clean a fabric face mask by machine or by hand that you can follow.

For disposable face masks, change them throughout the day to help reduce dirt and oil buildup and replace them as often as possible.

Cleanse Twice a Day

Wash your face both in the morning and at night. Use a gentle, non-soap and fragrance-free facial cleanser appropriate for your skin type. This helps to prevent the buildup of bacteria, oil and other clogging elements that contribute to developing acne.

Moisturize Your Skin

Moisturize your skin to help build your skin’s natural protective barrier. Use a mild, fragrance-free moisturizer appropriate for your skin type. This helps to strengthen the skin barrier by locking in the moisture to prevent water loss and keeps your skin soft and smooth. As smooth skin can help reduce friction, the chances of skin irritation caused by friction is reduced and, as a result, so are the chances of an acne breakout.

Take a Makeup Break

Wearing foundation, blush and other types of makeup on the covered areas of your face can cause oil and sweat buildup that can clog your pores and produce acne. Taking a break from wearing makeup in those areas, at least temporarily, is one way to help reduce the onset of acne. Instead, accentuate the upper part of your face that is not covered by your mask. If you can’t skip the makeup, use makeup that is featured to be non-comedogenic or oil free to avoid blocking your pores.

 

The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment, and may not and should not be used for such purposes. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare expert with any questions you may have regarding a medical question or condition. 

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