Mask Acne a.k.a “Maskne” – 5 Treatment Tips
Face masks have become part of our essentials in this new normal. As states and cities slowly ease their stay-at-home restrictions, people have been excited to go out and see the world again. But they have to keep their mask on while they are outside. Mask wearing together with the rising of temperature and humidity, many have noticed the breakout of acne on their faces. This breakout is now called “maskne” across the globe. If you’re suffering from maskne, continue reading to learn more about preventing and treating this distressing condition.
What causes mask acne?
Acne “starts when greasy secretions from the skin’s sebaceous glands (oil glands) plug the tiny openings for hair follicles (clogged pores).” However, aside from oil, acne may also be caused by dead skin cells, makeup, dirt, or bacteria.
Wearing a face mask creates the ideal environment for an acne flare. The covered part of the face becomes warm and humid. Bacteria, yeast, and other microbes thrive easily and cause inflammation and further blocking of pores, resulting in maskne.
Acne can differ in size and type, depending on what causes it. It could be blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples. The good thing is, there are simple steps to prevent and treat acne breakouts caused by wearing a face mask.
How to prevent mask acne?
1.Wash your face religiously.
As with other facial skin problems, the first thing you could do is wash your face frequently to remove all the debris, oil, and dirt accumulated on your face. Wash your face twice a day, especially if you’re wearing a mask the entire day.
If your mask feels moist or dirty, change it a times throughout the day, and replace with a clean dry mask.
2. Exfoliate gently.
Using a gentle cleanser with salicylic acid or glycolic acid helps to gently exfoliate and unclog the pores. Be sure not to scrub the skin or use harsh ingredients, as these will only aggravate the skin and worsen the inflammation.
3. Moisturize your skin.
Once your face is clean, you can prevent mask acne breakout by applying a light, non-oil-based moisturizer. Extra brownie points if you find products containing hyaluronic acid or ceramides. These moisturizers help lock moisture on your skin and protect it by creating a barrier that fights friction and chafing caused by the face mask.
4. Consider skipping makeup.
Another way to prevent mask acne is by skipping any makeup to help prevent pores from clogging.
However, this does not mean that you should also forego sunscreen. Whether you’re staying indoors or going outdoors, applying a broad spectrum sunscreen, at least SPF 30 is necessary. When you are outdoors, sunscreen protects your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays and from other skin issues relating to wearing a mask, such as tan lines.
For reapplication of sunscreen throughout the day, a mineral sunscreen powder is recommended over the traditional lotion- or cream-based sunscreens.
5. Switch up your masks.
According to experts, disposable masks are the best type of face masks as they are proven to mitigate the spread of infection. Additionally, they are the most breathable and least likely to cause maskne breakouts because you have to discard them before becoming too dirty. When using disposable masks, make sure that you replace them every time you go out and dispose of them properly.
If you opt for a cloth mask, those that are made of soft fabrics like cotton or silk are recommended. They are gentler and breathable on the skin. Face masks made of synthetic materials, on the other hand, are harsher on the skin. If you know that you have sensitive skin, you may opt for an anti-microbial mask that further reduces bacteria build-up.
Regardless of the type of reusable face mask, make sure that you wash it after use. Don’t lay it down somewhere and put it back on again after a few days. When washing your face mask, use fragrance-free, hypoallergenic detergent so that there would be no detergent residue afterward. This is vital because detergent residue on the face mask may further irritate your already irritated skin.
How to treat mask acne?
Now, what if there already is a breakout of maskne? Treating an active mask acne breakout is almost similar to the way you treat regular acne.
To treat mild cases, there are over-the-counter products you may use. Those that contain benzoyl peroxide may be used for spot treatment. This can kill bacteria associated with acne. Also, you would need an exfoliant containing salicylic acid to unclog the pores. Remember that it should also be gentle on your skin.
If there are already deep, cystic pimples, then that’s already a severe case, and it is best to consult a dermatologist. Experts would usually recommend the use of anti-inflammatory or antibiotic pills, retinoid cream medications or a steroid injection into a painful acne cyst. These are meant to calm irritation and hasten the natural turnover process of skin cells.
However, if your skin is sensitive, over-the-counter and prescription remedies would likely be irritating, especially if the skin already seems raw, red, and inflamed. If such is the case, you may have to use the aforementioned acne treatments less frequently or temporarily stop them altogether until the raw areas are healed.
Other mask-related skin problems
Aside from maskne, there are other skin issues that you may encounter because of the friction caused by wearing a face mask. In fact, your lips are primary the first part that would be irritated because they are most likely to touch the mask (unless you are wearing the cone-shaped type of mask). To protect your lips, you may use a lip balm every time you wear a mask.
Moreover, if you have an existing skin condition such as rosacea or eczema, the irritation may further trigger symptoms. If your previous treatment regimen seems futile, consult with your dermatologist immediately.
Regardless of acne breakouts and other skin problems that may arise, it is critical to keep wearing a face mask. Besides, it is still easier to treat those blemishes than cure a more serious disease. Also, wearing a mask will cover those blemishes until you get the time to see us!
If mask acne breakouts and other skin issues persist, call us at 301-679-5772 for a knowledgeable consultation. Also, you can book an appointment online. Dr. Ife Rodney is a board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist. She is an expert in skincare, anti-aging, and skin rejuvenation for all skin types. Eternal Dermatology is conveniently located in Fulton, MD, and serves Clarksville, Columbia, Ellicott City, Laurel, Bowie, Silver Spring, and Howard County, Maryland.