A new condition has emerged since the onset of the pandemic – an increase in acne like skin breakouts in the mask areas – nicknamed ‘maskne’.
. Dr Qian Xu Medical director and founder of Skin Aesthetics offers advice on how to deal with maskne:
What is it about wearing masks that causes skin irritation / breakouts?
Wearing masks for prolonged periods of time can cause pressure and friction in certain parts of the face which can lead to skin irritation. This is especially common over the nose and over the cheeks. It can get quite warm under the mask, and if the skin under the mask is not allowed to breathe properly, the pores can get clogged up more easily causing spots to form.
What’s the best way to prevent irritation?
Friction usually occurs when the mask is slightly loose and can move repeatedly against the skin. This can be avoided by making the mask a little tighter, which also improves the effectiveness of the mask. If you are using medical masks with ear loops, you can simply tie a knot at the base of the ear loops to shorten them, and fold the sides inwards to close the gap.
What’s the best way to prevent breakouts?
Only wear masks if you need to. When you are out in open spaces and other people are more than 2 meters away from you, there is no need to cover your face. If you do need to wear masks for work, try to take breaks often and change your masks several times through out the day if possible. Try to avoid wearing foundation during this time, as the mask can push the makeup particles into the pores, which can give you more breakouts. Always cleanse your face thoroughly with a facial cleanser as soon as you get home in the evening, rather than wait until bed time like you used to. This will reduce the amount of time the dirt and excess oils will stay on your skin, and can help prevent breakouts.
Should you tweak your skincare routine when wearing a mask for an extended period of time?
This depends on what your skincare routine was like before. As a general rule of thumb, in order to maintain healthy and active skin, you need a good cleanser, vitamin C serum, retinol, a suitable moisturiser and a good facial sunscreen. If you are already on these, then you don’t need to change them. Just taking the precautions mentioned above will help. If you have tried various skincare products, but they haven’t worked, then it’s worth seeing a skin rejuvenation specialist to give you some guidance, as there may be factors individual to you that need addressing.
If yes, does the same apply to wearing for short periods of time?
Wearing masks for shorter periods of time shouldn’t cause any problems, but maintaining healthy skin is important, not only to prevent breakouts, but also to help slow down the ageing process. The skincare products mentioned above are important for everyone, not just for those wearing face masks.