“Maskne” What It is, and How to Prevent and Treat it

We need to wear masks to protect each other, but not surprisingly mask wearing is creating some unpleasant and unintended side-effects, one of which is a skin break-out that has been coined “maskne.”

Maskne is acne (facial breakouts of pimples and blemishes) created by the hot, moist environment around the mouth and nose that wearing a mask produces.

Maskne is a real thing. (@nguyennguyen via Twenty20)

CNN reported on this phenomenon quoting board-certified dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center as saying “I have patients calling in despair saying ‘What is going on? I’ve never had a breakout before and now my face looks like a teenager’s!” The New York Times reports that ” masks can worsen skin issues that already exist or cause new ones. Add in the summer heat and humidity and you’ve got a petri dish for breakouts.”

The condition is especially challenging for health care workers who must wear masks all day and need to have a very tight seal on their masks to prevent infection. The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (A.D.D.) published a research letter entitled Skin damage among health care workers managing coronavirus disease-2019 which reported that the “general prevalence rate of skin damage caused by enhanced infection-prevention measures was 97.0% (526 of 542) among first-line health care workers.” 

In the Grown and Flown Parents group we have seen a surge of questions by parents whose teens are struggling with maskne.

The (AAD) has suggested 9 ways to help prevent face-mask wearing skin issues.

  1. Cleanse and moisturize your face daily. 
  2. Protect your lips by applying petroleum jelly.
  3. Skip the makeup when wearing a mask. 
  4. Avoid trying new skin care products that can irritate your skin. 
  5. Use less of certain skin care products if your face becomes irritated. 
  6. Wear the right mask. 
    • A snug, but comfortable fit
    • Soft, natural, and breathable fabric, such as cotton
    • Fabric on the inside that feels soft if you have sensitive skin
    • Cotton material inside if you have acne or oily skin
  7. Take a 15-minute mask break every 4 hours. 
  8. Wash your cloth masks. Many health care organizations now recommend that you wash a cloth mask after each use. Washing it also removes oils and skin cells that collect inside the mask, which could lead to a skin problem.You can wash a cloth mask in a washing machine or by hand.
  9. Continue the treatment plan that your dermatologist created for you. If you have a skin condition, such as acne or rosacea, it’s especially important to follow your treatment plan. This can help keep the condition under control. 

If the problem persists despite these steps, consult a dermatologist.

You Might Also Want to Read:

Popular Masks for Teens and Adults – We asked our Grown and Flown community which were their favorite face masks and here are the results.

About Helene Wingens

Helene Wingens has always been passionate about painting pictures with words. She graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in psychology and three years later from Boston University School of Law with a Juris Doctor. In a year long clerkship for an appellate judge Helene honed her writing skills by drafting weekly appellate memoranda. She practiced law until she practically perfected it and after taking a brief twenty year hiatus to raise her three children she began writing a personal blog Her essays have been published in: Scary Mommy, Kveller, The Forward, and Grown and Flown where she is Managing Editor. You can visit Helene's website here

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