Maskne – How To Avoid Breakouts Caused By Face Masks

Masks, controversial as they may be in some quarters, are probably here to stay in the near term particularly in Victoria.  Unfortunately for some people, face masks come with an unwelcome side effect – acne mechanica, more commonly known as ‘maskne’.

Maskne – What It Is and Why Does It Happen

Maskne isn’t a new condition. It is caused by the skin being subjected to continuous friction, humidity and trapped dirt & bacteria. Healthcare workers, who have historically worn masks, can attest to the fact that skin damage and irritation is common when wearing face masks frequently or for a prolonged period of time. Even sportsmen who have to wear protective helmets can suffer from it.

Here’s What You Can Do to Help Avoid and Treat Maskne

  1. Select the right face mask – Dermatologists recommend triple-layered 100% cotton face masks. The layers afford protection and the cotton fabric allows the skin to breathe a bit. Summer is upon us and the temperatures are set to rise. The heat will only increase friction and humidity, creating the ideal breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria under masks.  
  2. Wash your face before wearing your face mask – Dirt and oil on your skin get trapped under the mask and may cause breakouts. Using a gentle soap and fragrance-free cleanser will clean your skin before you put on your face mask. 
  3. Apply a non-comedogenic moisturiser to keep your skin hydrated and help minimise friction without clogging pores. Look for protective ingredients such as ceramide and hyaluronic acid. Our pharmacy stocks products such as Skleer Skin Restoration Gel and La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume B5. Both are extremely soothing for irritated skin and provide intense hydration.  
  4. Avoid wearing makeup – Piling on products under face masks also contributes to clogged pores. Go makeup-free to give your skin a chance to breathe. 
  5. Wash your reusable face mask after every use and do not reuse single-use face masks. Here are some more tips to help you achieve optimum face mask hygiene.
  6. Do not touch your mask or your face –  Keep your hands away from your face and your face mask. The goal is to minimise the transfer of any bacteria from your hands to your mask or your face.

When to Make a Doctor’s Appointment

Maskne, just like acne, needs to be treated with care. Medicated treatments like retinol or benzoyl peroxide may just end up irritating your skin further. If the tips mentioned above do not help clear out your breakout, it may be time to call your dermatologist.

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