Maskne Explained: Why It Happens and How to Prevent It

Imagine this: you’re heading out on a coffee date with friends. Just before you’re about to leave, you take a quick look in the mirror. Something catches your eye. Earlier, you thought that it was nothing but a mosquito bite, but you’re mistaken. A bright red pimple is sitting on your cheek. It’s no big deal, though. You’re going to wear a mask anyway.

If you think your face mask is your best friend, you’re wrong (at least in this regard). In fact, it might even be the cause of that pimple. Because this is a thing many people experience, there’s a term for that now. It’s called maskne.

We’re all familiar with acne. Acne vulgaris, or commonly known as acne, includes whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. But what about maskne?

What Is Maskne?

You’ve probably seen this term making rounds online in the beauty community, and you’ll probably continue to hear more of it. The term “maskne” was coined during the pandemic since a surge in skin issues was observed. With the widespread use of fabric face masks, acne flare-ups have been reported in general and healthcare populations.

One study points out a profound duo: a micro-environment (provided by the mask covering the skin) and the friction between skin and fabric. These two created the conditions for maskne, and now you’re dealing with it. That’s not to say that you should give up face masks altogether (especially when they’re keeping you safe).

The Consequences

Aside from the factors above, breathability, stickiness, moisture buildup, and hygiene practices contribute to maskne. On top of clogged pores and oil buildup, the humidity and sweat make a great ecosystem for bacteria.

Research on the effects of face masks on the skin found that the prevalent skin issue reported was acne, followed by rashes. Results also showed that adverse skin reactions were more likely to occur with surgical masks than cloth masks. Similarly, another study showed that individuals in the healthcare field experienced acne, rashes, and frequent headaches.

Again, it’s important to stress that this does not mean that you should stop wearing your mask in public. Remember, it’s protecting you from something bigger than maskne.

Preventive Measures You Can Do

wash face

Before conquering another day of wearing your mask, prep your skin to endure the conditions it’s dealt with. Apply an oil-controlling moisturizer to minimize sebum buildup.  You could also ease up on the makeup. Wear light to no makeup, at least on areas the face mask covers. The fewer products on your face, the better. This will give your skin a little more room to breathe. At least you can still rock eye makeup with ease.

For a general approach to preventing breakouts, studies advise you to wash your face two times a day with warm water and the right cleanser. In choosing the right cleanser, ditch anything that contains alkaline. Take care to choose the right products, too. For instance, you can use Harmony and Wellness items to fight pimple-making bacteria and boost skin cell regeneration — just what you need as a regular mask-wearer.

Other than skincare, the way you use your mask plays a role, too. For one, your disposable face mask has a limited time for optimal use. The recommended time for using a surgical mask is four hours, while the N95 mask is for the days.

Moreover, the American Academy of Dermatology Association shares more ideas on caring for your skin and aiming for comfort.  When wearing yours outside, take a 15-minute break every 4 hours of wearing it to let out all the humidity covered by the mask. Be sure to take this break when you’ve found a safe, lightly populated place to do so.

If you prefer cloth masks over disposable ones, go for a snug yet suitable fit to minimize friction against your skin. After using your cloth mask, drop it in the hamper. Don’t reuse it for your next trip to do groceries. Instead, wash them every after use.

Face masks have been doing a great job acting as a line of defense against the virus, be it a surgical mask or a cloth mask. However, this is not to invalidate anybody’s skin struggles. The uncomfortable feeling and annoying pain are something worth addressing.

Despite the skin issues caused by frequent, prolonged use of masks, you can’t deny the role it plays in keeping your overall health safe. What’s a pimple or two in the grand scheme of things? There are always preventive measures to remedy skin issues. Take that route and always choose your safety.

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