Wearing a mask may help limit the spread of the COVID-19, but it also creates a new skin problem for some people, which is mask-related acne.
Why does a face mask cause acne?
Masks trap bacteria, sweat, and dead skin cells that can clog pores and cause irritation, thus developing skin problems in the lower cheeks and chin area can range from acne-like bumps and blemishes to itchy rashes and dry, scaly skin. Some people may also be allergic to the substances in their masks.
Today it may be impossible to avoid a mask, but you can take steps to protect your skin and prevent irritation. Here are these tips to keep skin clear and healthy:
Keep your face clean
Wash your face with warm, not hot, water, and a gentle cleanser. Massage your skin gently and avoid rubbing. If you’ve been wearing your mask for more than several hours in a row, clean your cheeks and chin when removing it. One convenient option is to use facial cleansing wipes that you can put in your bag and use at all times, but make sure that they are designed for facial use and do not contain antibacterial sanitizers or other chemicals.
Use a moisturizer after washing your face to help retain skin moisture and ward off dehydration. Choose a moisturizer that’s designed for your skin type. Oily skin often benefits from a light, water-based moisturizer, while dry skin works best with lotions or creams. Avoid ingredients that can clog pores, as well as fragrances that may irritate the skin. Along with moisturizing your skin, keep your lips from chapping by applying Vaseline or moisturizing lip balm.
Avoid makeup under the mask
Applying the mask to foundation, powder, or other makeup can block air circulation and increase the risk of irritation. Putting make-up on your pores can cause breathing and, in turn, throat damage to your skin.
Use gentle skin products
Abrasive cleansers, fruit acids, and anti-aging products, such as retinol creams, can make skin more sensitive. If you are experiencing mask related issues, consider reducing your use of these products.
Give your skin some air
If you can do this safely, remove the mask for 15 minutes every few hours to soothe your skin. Ideally, take breaks from your mask in the open air and maintain a safe social distance.
Choose the right mask and wear it correctly
It is best to use masks made from natural, breathable materials like cotton because synthetic fabrics can irritate the skin. The mask should be comfortable but cover the nose, cheeks and chin, with no gaps on the sides. Avoid masks that are thick and tight or that rub your skin.
Wash cloth masks
Wash cloth masks well to remove dirt, oils and bacteria. You can wash the masks by hand or put them in the washing machine. Use a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic soap or laundry detergent, and rinse it well.
In the event that you have taken these steps and still have a rash, acne, or other irritation that is not improving, it is best to consult your doctor, especially if you are wearing a mask as part of your job.