The mandatory wearing of COVID masks has seen an increase in the amount of clients suffering from maskne, which presents as pimples, redness and irritation on the lower half of the face.
Says Dr S'lindile Ndwalane, leading dermatologist for SCIN @Hyde Park in Johannesburg: “Maskne is a term that has been coined for a type of acne known as acne mechanica. This is an eruption of acne because of constant mechanical friction, in this case, the face mask. The friction from the mask, as well as humidity and sweating, contribute to the clogging of pores and inflammation – leading to pimples. “We all have sebum, bacteria and dead skin cells on our skin. When we wear a mask, these substances can build up more and block your pores. A mask also traps humidity due to your breathing and sweating, which makes this the ideal breeding space for bacteria and breakouts to form. “Other conditions that can be caused by wearing a face mask include: rosacea, irritant and allergic contact dermatitis (which occurs when you are allergic or sensitive to the material of your mask); and folliculitis, (which is inflammation of your hair follicles).”
Dr Ndwalane suggests the following for clients suffering from maskne.
Wash your face twice daily with a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser.
When washing your face, use lukewarm water and pat your skin dry with a clean towel – avoid rubbing your skin as this may cause irritation.
If you have acne prone skin, try a medicated cleanser with tea tree, salicylic acid, glycolic acid or benzoyl peroxide.
Avoid harsh granular exfoliators as these can create or worsen irritation.
Use a lightweight non-comedogenic (doesn’t clog pores) moisturiser and apply it every day before wearing your mask.
Include hyaluronic acid in your skin care regimen for hydration.
Start using skincare products with vitamin C during the day.
Treat spots with Benzoyl Peroxide.
Make sure your night cream has retinol (vitamin A) in it.
Make sure you wear sunscreen every day.
Wash and/or change your mask every day. Never reuse a cloth mask without first washing it. Use unscented hypoallergenic laundry detergent, then let it dry completely.
Skip the make-up while you’re treating maskne. Beauty products such as foundation, concealer and blush can clog your pores and prolong healing. If skipping make-up is not possible, use lightweight, non-comedogenic make-up.
Where possible, remove your mask every four hours to give your skin a break. You should remove your face mask only when you can practice social distancing from other people. It’s also important to wash your hands before and after taking a mask break.
Choose the right mask. To avoid skin issues, try to wear a face mask that fits snugly, but not too tight, and is made of natural, soft, lightweight fabric like cotton. If possible, avoid masks made of synthetic fabrics as these materials can irritate the skin.
In the case of more severe maskne, or if the condition still persists after trying the above recommendations, it is advisable to consult a dermatologist.