What causes maskne and how to prevent it

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. – Most of us are wearing face masks every day, it’s the new normal we’ve adjusted to, to help curb the spread of COVID-19. But, many people are experiencing a frustrating side-effect, and that’s acne.

“It’s an increased production of oil and combination with bacteria that’s on the skin. However, with the mask that we’re wearing, you, unfortunately, have areas of irritation where the mask is rubbing,” South Bend Clinic Family Nurse Practitioner, Elizabeth Slavinskas said. “You have increased oil production, just from the added moisture and humidity that’s on the face that’s sort of our own breathe coming back at us, if you have an effective mask.”

You may be finding pimples in areas where your mask touches your face around your cheeks, nose, and possibly your chin.

Dermatologists are dubbing mask-induced acne as “maskne” a condition that is likely caused by increased humidity and moisture from wearing a mask on your face, for long periods of time.

Slavinskas said she’s been seeing an increase in "maskne" cases, especially with people who normally don’t experience acne breakouts. But it’s not just acne, the South Bend Clinic family nurse practitioner said there are other conditions flaring up with mask use that you should be aware of.

“Seborrheic Dermatitis, or dandruff of your face, perioral dermatitis, is a rash that occurs, kind of in the area that is covered by the mask, rosea flaring as well, and then sometimes people have an actual contact dermatitis to some of the pieces in the mask. Some of them, do have latex, and so you may mistake that rash for acne that’s not just getting better,” Slavinkas said.

To help treat “maskne” Slavinskas recommends washing the face mask daily.

“I’d recommend that you actually wash with sort of dye-free fragrance product because if you’re using with your regular laundry and there is a lot of heavily scented products in there that’s can cause more irritation,” Slavinskas said.

She also advises that people use a good facial cleanser that is not soap and to wash and moisturize twice a day. She said using an over-the-counter acne product like 2.5 percent Benzoyl Peroxide can be effective in treating acne and try to limit the amount of makeup on your face.

“As frustrating a this is for us with our skin we do have to have that balance. I don’t want people to feel like not wearing a mask is the way to get your skin clear. But, just to make sure that we're using them appropriately, we’re washing them, we’re taking breaks from them when we can, and that we’re wearing the type that’s kind of suitable for what we’re doing,” Slavinskas said.

Talk to a dermatologist or family doctor if you notice your face not getting better.

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