Mask acne, AKA “maskne” as we’ve coined the term, is not something we’ve ever had to think about before COVID-19. Although masks are doing an excellent job of protecting ourselves and others, they may also cause irritation to our skin (especially for those of us with chronic skin conditions such as acne, eczema and psoriasis).
Why Am I Getting Maskne?
First of all, let’s define what “maskne” even is! You may be noticing small red bumps or cystic lesions appear on your cheeks and jawline where your mask falls. That happens because our skin cells normally shed throughout the day, but as we wear a mask, these shedding cells have nowhere to go and may get stuck or clogged in our pores, leading to inflammation or simply the appearance of more blackheads and whiteheads. On top of this, our lower cheeks and jawline have a lot of sebaceous glands (oil glands), which is why for those of us who menstruate, we may notice hormonal acne in these areas closer to the times of our periods (yeah, another thing to be aware of!).
So what can we do about it?
Top 5 Ways to Reduce Mask Acne!
- Choose a mask made with natural fibres such as cotton or silk lining. These are less likely to irritate your skin and cause pulling. Make sure your mask sits comfortably on your face to avoid having to readjust or causing friction which can damage the skin
- Wash your mask every few days between uses, or switch masks as you need to. Try to use a laundry detergent which is clean, fragrance-free and dye-free to prevent any additional skin irritation. Check on the Environmental Working Group’s website for Clean Household Products: https://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/
- Take a break from wearing your mask at least every 4 hours when you can ensure you are safely distanced from people. For make-up users, try to go makeup free under your mask to prevent further clogging of pores with make-up products
- Stick with a skin-care routine which works for you! Everyone’s skin is different, so that may mean using different products to cleanse, exfoliate and hydrate. I use the Ordinary’s 7% Glycolic Acid toner as a way to exfoliate my face a couple times a week and have noticed that for my skin it is helpful to rid of small bumps.
- Eat foods which are nutritious and high in antioxidants and healthy fats, such as fresh, brightly coloured vegetables, citrus fruits, nuts, seeds and cold-water fatty fish. These are the building blocks of healthy skin cells! And don’t forget to hydrate! Drink lots of water, especially because we can sweat behind our masks, so we want to make sure to replenish any water lost!
I hope this blog was helpful! Let me know in the comments what you do to decrease acne caused by your face mask!
Yours in health,
Dr. Arlene Dubier
Naturopathic Doctor | Birth Doula