Maskne: What Is It and How to Treat It
Since the spread of COVID-19, wearing face masks have become common. According to scientific data, it’s been found that face masks are absolutely crucial in helping to reduce the spread of the coronavirus from person to person. Due to that, not only is it highly advised, rather, it’s mandatory to wear a face mask to prevent yourself from contracting coronavirus and from spreading it.
Face masks are a huge help — however, since it’s become essential to wear a mask, a lot of individuals who wear face masks have begun to experience skin problems. Recently, face mask breakouts have become a common thing. These face mask skin problems are now commonly referred to as ‘maskne.’ In this article, we’ll be discussing what maskne is, how to prevent it, and the ways that you can treat it.
What is Maskne?
The word ‘maskne’ is a portmanteau of two words: mask and acne. It’s become the umbrella term for skin afflictions that occur due to wearing a face mask or covering. If you’re wondering whether the word maskne was something that was just made up due to the pandemic well, no, not exactly. The medical term for this phenomenon is actually acne mechanica, and it covers skin issues that result from pressure, friction, rubbing, squeezing, or stretching. This condition has long existed even before people started wearing masks. It mostly affected athletes who wore helmets or who had gears with facial straps stretching across the skin.
Maskne happens when your pores become clogged with dead skin cells, dirt, and oil trapped on the skin while wearing a face mask or face coverings. Those things, mixed in with sweat, heat and moisture establish the perfect breeding ground for breakouts. These acne breakouts mostly show up around the chin area, the bridge of the nose, and the cheeks.
It’s important to note that maskne isn’t just limited to breakouts. Dr. Sobel, dermatologist and founder of Sobel Skin in New York City, states that wearing a mask also sets off other dermatological conditions. Rashes such as contact dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, hives — all these skin problems can occur as well. Even pre-existing conditions such as rosacea can flare due to mask-related circumstances. “They are technically not acne but are still a kind of skin irritation. Masks can cause the skin to become red, inflamed, and look similar to acne,” says Dr. Sobel.
Is Maskne fungal acne?
You may be wondering, is mask acne the same as fungal acne? First off, let’s define what fungal acne is. It is caused by fungus, which to most people, is also known as yeast. In medical terms, they’re referred to as pityrosporum folliculitis and they inflame the hair follicles on your skin, resulting in spots. According to skin care expert and dermatologist Dr. Sam Bunting, this yeast normally sits quietly on the skin and isn’t exactly bothersome, but there are times when it does get out of control, and it can lead to breakouts.
“Fungus thrives best in moist and warm environments,” says Dr. Kemi Fabuwisa, a noted dermatologist from London. She adds, “Wearing a face mask can also cause fungal acne as breathing into a closed-off space creates heat and humidity, causing you to sweat.” In other words, yes, maskne can also lead to folliculitis.
How do you prevent and stop Maskne
They say prevention is always better than cure. Whether you’re already experiencing maskne or not, here are some tips that dermatologists have advised to help prevent it from occurring.
Wash your face regularly
One step in preventing maskne from thriving is to make sure you wash your face regularly. It’s recommended to do so twice a day, specifically before and after wearing a mask. Washing your face regularly prevents dirt, oil, and other factors to settle in. Be sure to use a gentle cleanser and avoid harsh cleansers that can dry out your skin.
Face masks can cause further irritation if you’re someone who has dry skin. It’s advised to apply a moisturizer before wearing a mask as it can serve as a barrier between your skin and the mask. Look for a non-comedogenic moisturizer so that it won’t clog your pores and contribute further to the occurrence maskne.
Skip the makeup when wearing a mask
We all love glamming ourselves up with makeup even with our faces half-hidden by a mask but it’s now time to reconsider that. Beauty products such as foundation, concealer, blush, and the like can clog up the pores and lead to a buildup. Let your skin breathe under your mask by not piling it up with makeup. If you absolutely have to wear makeup, pick non-comedogenic ones to avoid blockage.
Choose your face mask wisely
Majority of us have resorted to using disposable masks since those are the ones that are widely available. But the material they’re made of may be causing irritation on some individuals. There are also reusable masks that are made of materials such as synthetic fabrics, like as nylon and rayon, which also causes friction and irritation to the skin.
If you’re using a disposable mask, choose one that fits snugly but isn’t too tight. It may also help to use a mask bracket to create breathing space between the mask and your skin. For those opting to use reusable masks, choose fabric masks that preferably have several layers. A multi-layered cotton mask is ideal as it is both breathable and protective.
Discard disposable face masks
Just as what the name implies, disposable masks are meant to be disposed of and not reused. Throw away your mask after each use as reusing them will put all the dirt and bacteria right back on your face. Always keep a spare mask with you so that you don’t have to reuse your disposable one.
Wash cloth masks after use
Reusable masks are heaven-sent because you don’t have to throw them away and you can reuse them as many times as you want. However, you should also remember to wash your mask after every use. Wash your cloth mask with a hypoallergenic laundry detergent and then it dry so that it will be ready for use again.
How to treat Maskne
If you already have maskne, you might be wary of wearing masks as it may heighten breakouts further. Please take note that it is highly important and essential to wear a mask in this pandemic, maskne or not. You don’t have to worry though, because here are some tips to treat maskne.
Stick to a skincare routine
Having a skincare routine can help save your skin from maskne. It bears reiterating that washing your face regularly plays a crucial part in eliminating dirt, oil, bacteria, and the like from your skin. Wash your face with lukewarm water and a gentle cleanser, and pat your skin dry. If you’re experiencing severe maskne, you can try cleansers that have benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid as the main ingredients. Although dermatologists warn that if you’re of the sensitive skin type, you may want to skip products with salicylic acid as it might lead to more skin irritation.
After washing your face, be sure to apply a moisturizer so that your skin is hydrated. Hyaluronic acid in moisturizers help repair and restore the skin barrier, especially after a skin problem. A non-comedogenic product would be ideal to prevent it from blocking your pores. For those whose skin type is sensitive, you may opt for an oil-free or fragrance-free moisturizer.
If you’re someone who’s a newbie to the skin care game and needs to set up a routine, or maybe you’re someone who needs a toned-down routine to save you from further issues, you can check out our guide to creating a simple skincare routine. Do remember to always consider the type of skin that you have before buying skincare products.
Apply a spot treatment
If you’re seeing several pimples already cropping up, you may want to do a spot treatment. Dermatologists recommend treatments that contain sulfur, zinc, benzoyl peroxide, and the like. Simply dab it on the areas of trouble as these things can help resolve spots in a day or two. It’s also much better to do spot treatment than pop your pimples as popping them may lead to infection.
Consider skin care products with retinol
A lot of anti-aging skincare products contain retinol in them as it’s an ingredient that helps speed up cell turnover. Retinol also reduces fine lines and skin wrinkling, making it incredibly popular in the anti-aging department. Using skincare products with retinol may help in turning over your affected skin cells into newer ones, preventing the dead skin cells from clogging your pores. Do remember to always apply sunscreen in the morning after using retinol.
Seek a dermatologist
For severe maskne issues or skin problems that just won’t go away, it’s always better to seek a dermatologist. These specialized experts can help in identifying your skin condition and will have the exact solution to your skin problem. They can also help in recommending items to treat your skin condition.
At the end of the day, breakouts or not, please continue to wear face masks or coverings. Sure, it can be very frustrating to have breakouts due to wearing a mask but fret not, for there are ways to prevent it and heal it.
When it comes to controlling maskne, the best thing that you can do is to regularly cleanse your face, moisturize, and find the right type of mask for you. If it persists, it’s highly recommended that you inquire with a specialist to help your case along.
Follow our tips and always stay safe!
Ira Arellano graduated with a degree in Multimedia Arts from the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde. When she’s not busy writing, Ira uses her remaining free time fawning over groups with too many members, reading three books simultaneously, crying over animated shows and fictional people, and being salty over her lack of gacha luck.