Are you experiencing breakouts under your mask? When facial skin is repeatedly rubbed or kept moist for prolonged periods of time, a condition called acne mechanica may develop. You may know it by its more recent name: Maskne.
What Is Maskne?
Dermatologists like the specialists at Park Avenue Dermatology have noticed a measurable increase in the number of acne mechanica, or maskne cases. Breakouts may occur in the part of the face covered by a mask, especially your chin, bridge of the nose, and your cheeks.
Before so many of us were wearing masks, acne mechanica already existed. Athletes wearing helmets or facial straps across the skin experienced the same types of breakouts, skin rashes, and facial irritation that masks are causing now when worn for extended periods.
Maskne refers to acne breakouts that are the direct result of wearing a facial mask. The medical name for maskne is acne mechanica. The skin can become sensitive and irritated from wearing a mask for long periods without allowing the skin to breathe.
Oil builds up, the area becomes increasingly moist from your breathing, pores can become clogged from makeup, and if it is hot, the area under the mask gets sweaty. These ingredients together create the perfect recipe for a bout of maskne.
Blemishes and blackheads commonly appear under the area of the face covered by the mask. A recent Health.com article examines the causes of maskne and explores ways to avoid the breakouts.
Can Maskne Be Prevented?
If you think you are experiencing maskne, Park Avenue dermatologists encourage you to schedule an evaluation. You can also try the following to avoid maskne:
- Do not wear foundation or other makeup underneath your mask.
- Use a breathable mask of 100% cotton if safe, practical, and possible.
- Wash your mask daily if it is a cloth mask. Disposable masks should be frequently replaced.
- Essential workers who are required to wear N95 respirators may experience irritation from the tight fit of the mask. Silicone gel strips can help alleviate the rubbing and irritation when placed underneath the areas that pressure the skin.
How to Treat Maskne
First, don’t overdo it. When acne appears, the temptation is to attempt to cleanse and scrub it into disappearing. This is the wrong approach.
Gentle is best. You don’t want to damage your skin’s protective barrier.
Cleanse your skin with a gentle facial wash. Products containing salicylic acid can be effective.
Apply a moisturizing cream with emollients to calm the damage caused by your mask rubbing against the skin. Throughout the day, whenever safe and possible, give your skin a break by removing the mask.
An over-the-counter acne treatment may be all that is necessary to treat your breakouts. Apply only to the breakouts themselves.
Be kind to yourself. Try to reduce any stress in your life.
If you are struggling with maskne right now, you are definitely not alone. Healthcare workers and others who spend hours each day wearing masks are particularly struggling with maskne, but it can affect anyone, especially if you experienced breakouts in the past.
If you feel your maskne is getting worse or not improving, contact Park Avenue Dermatology for an appointment with one of our dermatologists. You may have contact dermatitis or a different condition, so have a specialist evaluate it.