Breakouts, redness or irritation on the upper cheeks, lower cheeks, jawline, chin, nose, and around the lips - the areas of the face covered by protective face masks - from being enclosed for long periods of time. There is a significant overlap between mask induced acne and the traditional acne mechanica, which is a type of acne induced by friction.
“Maskne is invisible, covered by our face masks, but like all other types of acne, it affects US, how we feel about ourselves. We see our own skin and live in our own skin daily. This is why we care about maskne.” - Dr. Shasa Hu
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Adhesion or movement of the mask against your face can irritate the skin, making your skin more prone to clogging. This friction also causes damage to the skin’s protective barrier.
Protective masks create an occlusive environment for the covered area. Perspiration, sebum, and natural shedding of the skin create the perfect storm where pores become clogged easily.
Humidity from sweat, oil and moisture
The heat and humidity concentrated around the mouth can alter the pH of your skin and make you more prone to three issues—bacterial overgrowth can result in folliculitis or infected hair follicles; yeast overgrowth can result in perleche or cheilitis, which can present as persistent dry cracked corners of the mouth; and, lastly, perioral dermatitis, a variant of rosacea that can present as small red bumps and chronic irritation around the mouth.
The combination of COVID-19 related anxiety and mask regulations inevitably take a toll on skin.
Start by washing your face before you put a mask on and after you take it off. Opt for mild cleansers that won’t strip your already sensitive or irritated skin.
Moisturize after cleansing to prevent dryness and help restore skin’s natural protective barrier. Look for moisturizers with calming ingredients to help with any redness or irritation.
Wearing too many products, including layers of makeup can cause build up on the skin. If necessary, choose non-comedogenic AND OIL FREE products.
Using soft cotton masks will help reduce friction and irritation and allows the skin to breathe WHENEVER POSSIBLE. Masks should be washed after every use to avoid growing microbes in the weave of the fabric.
"The breakouts on my lower face and jaw have been horrible! I work in a hospital so I need to wear my mask and face shield to protect myself and my patients.
I normally don’t breakout so it’s been very frustrating for me"
I’ve been experiencing more breakouts on my chin. The mask has also caused a lot of irritation and dryness on my nose and cheeks. I’ve experienced near constant skin peeling on my nose since I started wearing a mask- as well as irritation and redness from the edges of the mask."
“The breakouts around my chin and mouth where sweat collects due to wearing an N95 at work all day have become annoying and bothersome. They are painful and my skin I worked so hard to keep clear of blackheads is getting a bunch of black heads again”