Nicolas Gulizia, Editor

While wearing a mask can help prevent the spread of covid, other problems may arise. We’ve been wearing masks for the past year and a half, and countless people have noticed their skin conditions getting worse. A common one is “maskne”, a term used to describe the acne you get from wearing a mask all day.

Masks are generally warm when they are on your face from moisture and trapped heat, and that act can be the reason that breakouts occur.

“Masks create a warm and humid environment underneath them which traps moisture and sebum,” Dr. Thivi Maruthappu, a dermatologist for the British Skin Foundation, explained.

Stress from school and hormones can also cause extra oil on your skin to be produced, which can also lead to even more breakouts.

“Excess oil production combined with blockage of hair follicles/sebaceous glands, or oil glands, and overgrowth of the bacterium propionibacterium acne causes spots,” Maruthappu said.

As expected, most breakouts occur on the cheeks and chin, where the mask covers the face. Studies have also shown that workers with very long shifts are more likely to deal with “maskne” or other skin problems.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, “At least 83 percent of healthcare workers in Hubei, China suffered skin problems on the face.”

For those living where mask mandates are still in place, you are pretty much stuck wearing one until those mandates are lifted. You might as well learn how to deal with it, right?

The type of mask you wear can dictate, to an extent, the number of breakouts and the severity of them. Many dermatologists suggest a 100% cotton mask as it can allow your face to breathe a bit more, without the mask clogging up your pores. 

Erik Gilbertson, a dermatologist at Scripps Clinic Rancho San Diego, states that masks that are too tight or rub against the skin can increase the chances of “maskne” occurring.

Many experts recommend staying away from makeup under the mask. “Placing a mask over foundation, powder, or other makeup can block air circulation and increase the risk of irritation,” according to Gilbertson.

The products you use to wash your face certainly can make a difference, as well. Mercy Health claims that more oily face products are worse. 

“Heavy oil-containing products can make you sweat quicker and clog your pores.” Light, gentle, non-oily cleansers are best and look for ones that are fragrance-free.

Growing out your beard may not be the smartest thing right now, either. Facial hair can make skin conditions worsen.

“When you grow a beard, your beard hairs trap oil from your skin, dead skin cells, and bacteria next to your skin. Without the right skincare, these can clog your pores and cause acne,” The American Academy of Dermatology Association, said.

But how can you treat “maskne” once it forms on your skin? Dr. Kassouf of Cleveland Clinic believes that something you may not expect-dandruff shampoo can give the skin a good clean from time to time.

Using one that has ketoconazole or selenium sulfide in it can be calming for the skin and help remove excess yeast buildup – especially around the nose and mouth,” Dr. Kassouf said. 

A good foaming cleanser is also much more effective than oily products like mineral oil or petroleum-based products.

“It will help keep your skin clean and calm. If your skin is more acne-prone, look for a cleanser that has salicylic acid in it,” Dr. Kassouf said.

Some good options are ‘Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Fighting Facial Cleanser’ and ‘SkinCeuticals LHA Cleanser Gel.’

Pay attention to the mask you wear and the skin products applied daily. Some of those problems may go away after all, and your “maskne” may be gone.