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‘Maskne’: How to prevent acne related masks

The Los Angeles County Mask Warrant was re-installed this weekend and the 10 California counties are now strongly recommending indoor masks.

So if you are suffering from acne related masks or “masks”, it may not be going away any time soon. But our health expert, Karen Owoc, is here with tips to help prevent and deal with this side effect of wearing a mask.

Maskne is not new.

Acne-related masks have always been an issue in professions where you have to wear a mask regularly, but now that the general public has worn a mask (and often for long periods of time), masking has become more of a public health issue.

Science Behind Maskne

• Yeast, bacteria, and other flora (e.g., mites that live on your skin) are present on the skin.

• When you breathe, you expel hot, humid air trapped inside your mask. This warm, humid environment is the ideal setting for the yeast, bacteria, and mites.

• These microorganisms can clog (and infect) your pores and also create friction between your mask and skin, causing pimples and pustules (blisters on the skin that contain fluid or pus).

The three keys to preventing Maskne

  1. Skin hygiene
  2. Hygiene Mask
  3. Oral hygiene
  4. Skin Hygiene

• Wash your face with a gentle foaming cleanser (nothing is too harsh that will dry the skin and further irritate the skin). You can use one with salicylic acid. Salicylic acid (beta hydroxy acid) is known to reduce acne by exfoliating the skin and keeping pores clear.

• To help remove excess yeast accumulation, you can wash your face 2-3 times a week with a dandruff shampoo (contains selenium sulfide,

zinc pyrithione, or ketoconazole). These ingredients are antibacterial, antibiotic, and antifungal agents. Yeast is the main factor in dandruff.

• Cleanse your skin with a simple toner (e.g., a few drops of witch hazel on a cotton ball) or a non-baby, wipe if you have to wear the mask for long periods of the day or if you have facial hair.

• Hot air and moisture from sweat get trapped under thick layers of hair (beard and mustache), so clean in the middle of washing.

• Make sure the skin and hair on your face are dry before wearing the mask.

• Apply a light layer of makeup, lotion, or sunscreen (with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide). It can help serve as a barrier against irritating friction between your skin and masks. Thick layers of these products can aggravate acne.

Hygiene Mask

• Change masks often – especially after exercise and sweating.

• Wash mask after use to control infection and reduce irritation.

• Always wash new fabric masks before wearing them. Fabrics that can be treated with formaldehyde * resins are: rayon, synthetic-blended cotton, wrinkle resistant 100% cotton. They can cause allergic contact dermatitis.

* Formaldehyde levels in clothing have decreased significantly since studies were conducted in the 1980s, but are still present.

• Wash masks with an unscented soap and rinse, rinse, rinse! Dust and germs rise on the surface and are blocked by the detergent. If you don’t rinse well, you end up with a mask with both germs AND detergent on it.

• Do not use fabric softeners on masks, which contain quaternary ammonium compounds to fight static. According to a study (NYU School of Medicine), these compounds have also been found to cause skin and respiratory irritation.

Oral Hygiene (Avoid “Mouth Mask”)

Symptoms of mouth mask include bad breath, tooth decay, and gum inflammation.

• Do not breathe through your mouth. It dries out of the mouth, leading to bad breath. When you breathe out of your mouth, bacteria come out of you

lips become trapped in your mask. People with masks tend to breathe in their masks.

• Stay hydrated.

• Practice good oral hygiene.

• Do not eat mint or chewing gum that is aggravated by rot.

• Change masks often and wash often.

The takeaway: Remember the three keys to prevention: 1) Good skin hygiene, 2) Good hygiene masks, and 3) Good oral hygiene.

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