COVID-19 has facilitated a lot of shifts in how we handle our daily lives. The unexpected side effect of wearing a mask all day is a condition colloquially known as maskne, stubborn acne caused by wearing a face covering every day.

Sarah Cooper, an oculoplastic and aesthetics Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN ), at Ocala Eye says the condition is now all too common for anyone regularly wearing a mask. She states, “I hear about it on a daily basis. It’s a big topic. It’s all over social media.” 

What is Maskne?

Maskne, or mask-related acne, is causing a lot of problems. If you’re following proper mask protocols, Cooper says, “You’re wearing all [a mask] day long, it’s just sitting on your face. So, it’s just building up all the oil and the bacteria which is clogging your pores.”

While the term “maskne” is more of an Internet phrase, the clinical term for the condition is called acne mechanica. Maskne is the form of acne mechanica caused by the constant pressure, friction, rubbing, and squeezing of the skin under the mask. This rubbing creates micro-teams, allowing easier entry for dirt, sweat, and bacteria to invade your skin. Then the warm moist conditions under your mask create the perfect conditions for bacteria to thrive. The end results are red bumps and skin lesions as well as blackheads or other flareups.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 50 million people in the U.S. a year are affected by some form of acne. Stress related breakouts from the worry of COVID alone can be a problem, but now the wearing of masks can also cause skin irritation.

Acne mechanica can cause inflamed lesions, pimples, or other unsightly breakouts on the skin. Unlike acne vulgaris, a condition caused by underlying hormones, can mechanica occurs from “mechanical” issues – such as the wearing of a mask repeatedly. 

With many people wearing masks every day, there is a greater chance that the constant rubbing and friction along with the trapped oil and sweat will exacerbate existing acne or cause a new flare up of maskne. 

How Can I Clear Up my Maskne Breakout?

maskneThe key to managing your maskne breakout is prevention. follow these five tips to keep your skin clear: 

  1. Wear a clean mask each day.

Mask cleanliness affects your maskne breakout. Starting every day with a clean mask is important. Cooper says, “Throughout the day if you have like a 12-hour shift, you want to be able to maybe wear two masks in one day instead of just the one mask all day long. Then, make sure you’re washing it daily or, if you’re wearing disposable masks, make sure you’re actually throwing them away and not reusing them because they harbor bacteria.” 

Wash your mask regularly so you go out with a clean one every day. The more breathable cloth masks will be gentler on the skin and can be washed regularly and reused.

  1. Wash your face in the morning and at night.

There are a few things you can do now to increase your efforts to fight stubborn maskne, including increasing your efforts to keep your face clean each day. Facial cleanliness is particularly important when you’re wearing a mask every day. 

Wash your face in the morning and at night with a gentle water-based cleanser that won’t clog your pores. Moisturize the skin with a hydration product that doesn’t irritate your skin further. Don’t overdo it with harsh scrubbing agents; overdoing your cleanliness regimen could strip away important skin barriers that actually protect you against a maskne breakout. 

  1. Use organic and daily skin care products to prevent acne.

Cooper comments that Ocala Eye works with patients to develop treatment regimens or a combination of products that their team of experts feel will be the best to treat maskne. Every person has a different skin type so taking the time to undergo a clinical consultation and develop an individualized treatment plan is particularly important to bringing your maskne under control. 

The type of daily skin care products you use can actually help you build a healthy barrier between your skin and the mask you wear each day to protect you from a potentially deadly illness. 

  1. Get a monthly HydraFacial.

Ocala Eye’s HydraFacial is a 30-minute invigoration treatment to remove dead skin cells and extract impurities while bathing and rehydrating the skin. It’s a non-invasive pain-free skin purifying treatment to help flush your pores. 

The HydraFacial can be used on all skin types, including sensitive skin or skin irritated by maskne. Your HydraFacial treatment is individualized; aestheticians like Cooper will choose specific treatment serums to treat specific problems you’re experiencing.

Many Ocala Eye clients see an immediate change in their skin tone after the HydraFacial. This skin smoothing and hydration effect can last a week or longer. Beyond helping clear up your maskne, this treatment can improve the appearance of brown spots, fine lines, and wrinkles.

  1. Avoid makeup when wearing a mask.

Many makeups are hypoallergenic, but wearing a restrictive mask that suffocates your skin could exacerbate the clogging of your pores with these products. 

At the very least, keep your makeup very light and try to use the highest quality products possible to improve your chances that the cosmetics you use don’t add to the maskne flareup. 

Should I See a Doctor About my Maskne?

Good skin is part of good health, and maskne is an uncomfortable sign of the times. If you’re struggling with unsightly, uncomfortable maskne, you can start the process of overcoming it by scheduling a consultation with Ocala Eye. 

We can design an individualized treatment plan to clear up maskne flare ups. Our first consultation is free. Click here to schedule.

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