The term “maskne” refers to the acne that people are experiencing from constantly wearing a mask. During COVID young and old seem to be struggling with acne caused by wearing a mask all day. As a result, acne treatment searches have increased by 37% during the month of June and continue to climb. While the winter months don’t have the same outdoor heat issues they still carry the same maskne risks. Maskne can come in the form of blemishes, skin irritation, peeling, or redness around your jawline, cheeks or mouth. Acne occurs when pores become clogged by sweat, oil, moisture, or dirt. When these elements get trapped beneath the skin’s barrier bacteria is created and can form a pimple.

Here are just a few ways masks can cause acne from a face mask: 

  • Moisture – When confined beneath the fabric of a mask, your breath creates a humid environment. 
  • Warm & Cold Weather – Heat and humidity can exacerbate acne, inside and outside the mask. Higher temperatures increase your face’s sweat and oil protection. And the more oil and sweat, the easier it is for bacteria to turn into blemishes. Cold weather can dry out your skin, making it easier for the mask to chafe the skin and break down the protective layer, welcoming bacteria into your pores.  
  • Bacteria – We already mentioned that sweat, oil, and makeup can become trapped under the mask and clog pores. The secondary way you can introduce dirt and bacteria into your skin is through your fingers. Every time you adjust your mask or even just put it on, you’re introducing pore-clogging oil and dirt into your pores from your hands. 
  • Friction – As you go about your day, your mask moves around your face, damaging the skin’s protective layer and without the protective layer bacteria can settle under your skin and cause pimples.

So what are the best ways to help avoid and treat makcne?

Keep your Skin Clean

You should wash your face regularly. Washing in the morning and evening should be enough but if you can do it mid-day as well that could help. It’s important to stay clear of super drying acne washes that typically have alcohol in them because they can irritate your skin further and strip your skin of the top protective layers making your skin even more vulnerable to bacteria and acne.

Best face washes list has specific focus on your needs – whiteheads, Blackheads, Oily or redness. I also like this list because its focused on items that can be purchased at your local drug store or mass merchant which means they are less expensive and convenient. Once you find a formula that works for you you can always seek other like potions that may be even better or more unique. I like this best face wash list from byrdie if your seeking some options. Tip: If you can, avoid wearing makeup on the mask portion of your face. Play up your eyes instead. Avoid picking your face as that can cause permanent damage and your fingertips could be exposing your skin to more bacteria.

Treat the Acne

Weekly Treatment – Take the time to examine your beauty regime. You may want to simplify the products and/or steps you’ve done inn the past. Try exfoliating and hydrating your skin once a week. Be sure to use gentle products that do not cause further irritation.

Spot Treatment – If you want to treat specific problem areas look for spot treatment products that contain one or more of these ingredients: Salicylic acid, Sulfur, Zinc or 2.5% benzoyl peroxide. Be sure to read up on ingredient options as some people have reactions to ingredients like benzoyl peroxide. The last thing you want to do is to cause further irritation to your skin.

Prevent Future BreakOuts

Pick the Right Mask – Its important to get a snug but comfortable fit. Its worth it to pay more, if needed, for a soft, natural and breathable fabric like cotton. Cotton on the inside of your mask is best against sensitive or acne skin prone to acne.

Keep your Mask Clean – You should wash your mask between uses with detergent and hot water as well as a bit of white vinegar. White vinegar is an antibacterial and anti-fungal so by adding this to you’re cleaning process you’re getting your mask extra clean. Tip: Be sure to keep your hands clean. Even with a mask you’re touching your face hundreds of times a day.

Try a Soothing Face Mask – To give your skin a treat, try making or buying a mask. I like the list form healthline as they give directions for making your own mask using natural ingredients you have around the house and they also give you a list of masks you can purchase in case you don’t have the time or interest to make your own.

In summary, masks can help create skin blemishes and acne for people of all ages. Be sure to get a cotton lined mask, clean it regularly and wash your hands and face regularly. With time and some special care you should be able to minimize breakouts.

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Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez is a board-certified general practitioner with more than 15 years of patient care experience. She takes an integrative approach to patient care that considers the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and is deeply committed to assisting her patients in achieving and sustaining optimal health. Dr. Vanessa is also a skilled writer and medical reviewer, specializing in preventive care and health promotion. Her articles are written in an approachable manner that is simple to comprehend and implement in one’s own life. Dr. Vanessa’s mission is to equip her patients and readers with the knowledge and resources necessary to live their greatest lives.

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