"Prolonged mask wearing can change the pH of the skin and alter the skin microbiome. In addition, the mask itself can occlude the pores making acne worse."
Maskne (Mask Acne) has been on the rise since we are all wearing a mask for more hours during the day. Below are some tips to wear your mask and have clear skin.
Why does it happen?
Trapped heat and moisture under the mask can cause skin cells to swell leading to clogged pores and acne. Prolonged mask wearing can change the pH of the skin and alter the skin microbiome. In addition, the mask itself can occlude the pores making acne worse.
How to treat/prevent it?
Wash your face with a gentle cleanser after wearing a mask for a long period of time. This is especially important if you are wearing a very occlusive mask such as an N95.
- If you are wearing a washable mask, wash your mask daily.
- If you are wearing a disposable mask, switch out your mask daily.
Note: If you are in a warm, humid climate, you may need to change your mask a few times per day. Dry fit, moisture-wicking masks may help.
Minimize the use of cosmetic and occlusive products under the mask. The mask already occludes the pores. If you add occlusive makeup under the mask, you are only aggravating the problem. If you suffer from acne, I recommend using only oil-free, noncomedogenic products.
Try an over-the-counter acne or pore-clearing wash. Benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid washes are staples for acne. If you have sensitive skin (or, if you are pregnant or nursing), a glycolic acid wash is a great way to keep your pores clear.
A topical vitamin A cream (retinoid) at night is our work-horse in dermatology for preventing acne. There are prescription-based retinoids (e.g. tretinoin) that your dermatologist may prescribe. If you have not yet seen a dermatologist, there is an over-the-counter topical vitamin A cream called differin that you can give a go. Use a small, pea-sized amount at night to the entire face. Start two times per week and work up to nightly as tolerated. This medication can be very drying and irritating. For folks with sensitive skin, you may only be able to do this a few times per week. That’s ok! Apply a noncomedogenic moisturizer after the differin. Note: You may have an acne flare one week after starting this cream. This is normal. The cream takes about 3 months to see a full effect so be patient! Topical vitamin A creams are not recommended during pregnancy or nursing. Thus, if you find out that you are expecting (congrats!), you should stop this cream.
Don’t pick at your acne. As tempting as it can be, picking can lead to permanent acne scarring.
If your acne does not improve, I recommend seeing a board-certified dermatologist who can prescribe an acne regimen tailored for your skin.
On a personal note, I spend a decent amount of time in hospital masks and N95s. I have found that a weekly clay mask can really help decongest and clear out the pores. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
And, as a dermatologist, I must remind you to not forget the sun protection. There are many UPF masks on the market including the UPF 35+ Neck Gaiters by Tri Sirena which is great for running and biking.
Wear your mask. Be safe. Love your skin.
Written By: Amanda Suggs, Tri Sirena Siren Luminary
Follow Amanda on Instagram @IronMandyMD
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This blog was created for informational purposes only. It's content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website or online.