Like it or not, mask-wearing has become a part of our daily routine. Aside from being hot and uncomfortable, something else is beginning to emerge. Maskne. You’ve probably seen memes poking fun at this new term, but joking aside, maskne is real. Zits are popping up on people that haven’t experienced acne since they were teens. And for those of you that suffer from chronic skin conditions, maskne is no laughing matter.

The good news is, you are not destined to break out every time you mask-up to go to work or head out in public.

Maskne – What Is It and What Causes It?

The official term for maskne is ‘acne mechanica.’ It is triggered by excessive heat, pressure, friction and rubbing of the skin. Often times, athletes will experience it around helmet straps and tight-fitting uniforms. More recently though, mask-wearing healthcare workers, hospitality staff, first-responders and retailers are attesting to this skin care problem. Masks create friction against the face as well as a warm, moist environment for bacteria to thrive which can cause clogged pores, pimples and folliculitis.

How to Prevent and Treat Maskne

  1. Cleanse: Use a gentle, non-irritating, non-comedogenic, pH balancing cleanser or soap that is fragrance- and oil-free. Your face should be clean before donning your mask for work or a trip to the store and cleaned again when you return home.
  2. Be Gentle: If you do experience Maskne, don’t go overboard with harsh chemical-based spot treatments, abrasive exfoliants and astringents. These have the potential to make your maskne much worse.
  3. Fortify: It may seem like applying a moisturizer is the opposite of what you should be doing, but it is absolutely the right thing if you are using the right moisturizer. A face moisturizer will help keep your skin hydrated and create a barrier to reduce friction with your mask. Look for fragrance-free options that are light-weight and natural.
  4. Skip Your Make-up: Not only does make-up get all over your mask (ick!), but it can also exacerbate clogged pores behind your mask. If the thought of going make-up free scares you, focus on accentuating your eyes and skip the foundation and powder around your mouth and chin.
  5. Lip-Service: Many women have stopped wearing lipstick because it junks up their masks, but don’t skip your lips. Use a lip scrub at home and apply a quality, color-less lip balm every few hours to provide a protective barrier for your lips.

In addition to caring for your face, it is equally as important to care for your mask. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Wash It!: If you are using a reusable cloth mask, wash it! Cloth masks can become a breeding ground for bacteria from your nose and mouth.
  2. Launder It Right: Avoid highly-fragranced laundry detergents and fabric softeners. They can really irritate your skin.
  3. Multiple Masks: Buy enough masks so that you can wear a fresh one each day between laundry loads.
  4. Get a Case: Think carefully about where you are placing your mask. Don’t take it off and rest it on the table at lunch, toss it in your purse or hold it in your lap. Have a designated place to safely store your mask or add a lanyard to keep it around your next.

Masks will be a part of our daily lives for the foreseeable future. But maskne doesn’t have to be. Follow our simple suggestions, and you’ll be looking great for your next webex call or zoom happy hour. Stay safe everybody!

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