Withnot slowing down anytime soon, it’s likely that will remain a part of our daily routines for the foreseeable future. And if you’re wearing face masks at work, while running errands, walking around your neighborhood or even — that time or having something pressed up against your skin can add up fast. While wearing face masks is crucial for public health and keeping yourself safe, some people are battling new, pesky from all the time spent wearing masks — also known as “maskne.”
Face masks can cause skin irritation and breakouts for several reasons, which can vary based on the person, how tight they are wearing the mask, and what it’s made of. “[Maskne can be] caused by the friction and occlusion to the skin from the mask. Historically it has been described in athletes who wear chin straps on helmets and violin players who rest the instrument on the chin,” Caren Campbell, a board certified dermatologist, tells CNET.
In addition to friction, some people are sensitive to certain fabrics, and when you pair that with trapped sweat, makeup and/or dirt, it’s a recipe for a breakout. “The irritations caused by wearing face masks and coverings are most likely due to contact dermatitis, which is an allergic reaction to fabrics (usually synthetic), soaps, etc., bacteria from not cleaning the mask properly or re-wearing a mask and the reusing of disposable masks,” Joshua Ross, an aesthetician at SkinLab says.
Keep reading for Ross and Dr.Campbell’s best tips for preventing and treating maskne — and yes, you can (and should) keep wearing your face mask.
How to treat and prevent maskne
Keep your mask clean and change it out every day
Dr. Campbell recommends keeping on top of your mask hygiene by cleaning it or, switching it out for a new mask each day. Using a hypoallergenic laundry detergent or soap can help too if your skin is very irritated. “Make sure you’re using one that’s 100% cotton and that you’re cleaning your mask daily with a hypoallergenic detergent or using dish soap and warm water from your sink. Be sure you are rinsing very thoroughly,” Ross says.
Take breaks from wearing makeup or anything else that can clog pores
If you’re wearing makeup under your mask and breaking out, now is the time to give your skin a break — at least while you are actively treating your acne and breakouts. Dr. Campbell suggests avoiding makeup and any other products that could clog your pores.
Then, once you remove any potentially pore-clogging products from your routine, be sure that you are cleansing your skin regularly. “Wash your face in the morning or evening with something that helps to unclog the pores. My favorite is a 5% or less benzoyl peroxide wash as it helps unclog the pore and kill acne causing bacteria on the skin,” Dr. Campbell says.
Use targeted products
In addition to regularly cleansing your skin, especially right after wearing a mask, you can try adding a targeted exfoliating cleanser. Ross recommends using one about twice a week if you are experiencing breakouts.
“Exfoliating the skin helps with cell turnover so add in products with a chemical exfoliant such as those with salicylic or glycolic acid to help prevent acne,” Ross says.
In terms of treatment serums, look for products with salicylic acid or glycolic acid as well. “iS Clinical Active Serum has salicylic acid in it is a favorite of mine for treating acne. It improves texture and redness as well,” Ross says.
Dr. Campbell says you can try a retinoid treatment as well, although keep in mind that these can be irritating and drying to the skin. “A topical retinoid can help unclog the pore, kill the acne causing bacteria and work as an anti-inflammatory. I would advise usingor . Apply a pea sized amount to the entire face one to two nights per week with a moisturizer on top. Retinoids are very drying initially, so adding it one day every few weeks and going slowly is advised, the skin does get used to the topical medication over time,” Dr. Campbell says.
Find a fabric that is gentle on your skin
The last thing you need to do to angry skin that is breaking out and sensitive is to add even more irritation with a scratchy or uncomfortable face mask.
Different types of fabrics have different textures, and some will irritate your skin more than others. For instance, many printed cotton fabrics used to make masks can feel rough against your skin, so switching to something smoother — like neoprene — can help avoid irritation. Cotton also traps moisture more than, so if you’re in a hot climate, look for a mask made from .
This could take some trial and error since everyone’s skin is a bit different — but look for something that is soft and breathable when you read the label or description before you buy.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.