Maskne – Unmasked! All you need to know about mask acne

As part of the new normal, face masks have become a truly essential accessory in life today. While stepping out of the house, what earlier was, “Oh, I forgot my car keys”, has now come to be, “I need to head back and grab my mask”. While the effectiveness of masks in containing the spread of the pandemic is now well acknowledged, what often gets missed is the effect of wearing that mask on your facial skin with its resultant irritant - Maskne.

What is maskne?

Maskne (Mask Acne) is a skin condition that is brought on by prolonged wear of face masks. Mostly appearing in a circle around the bridge of your nose, cheeks, and chin, Maskne tends to break out along the area where your mask is in contact with the skin. Your mask touches a particular area of your face for a long time and tends to trap heat & cause friction. This along with sweat and oil on the skin becomes a breeding ground for bacteria leading to breakouts. Additionally, the strings used to keep the mask fastened around your face exert a fair bit of pressure, barely leaving any chance of air circulation. The result - an unwanted outline of the mask on your face long after you’ve taken off the mask.

How to prevent maskne?

Wearing a mask when you’re heading out is non-negotiable, however with a few tips and slight changes to your existing skincare routine you may be able to coax your skin into forming an alliance with your mask.

  • Wash your face at least twice a day with a gentle cleanser to get rid of excess oil and dirt that may have accumulated on the skin. You should always wear a mask on clean skin.
  • Moisturize frequently to keep your skin hydrated and build a barrier between your skin and the inside of the mask.
  • Choose a mask made of breathable fabric, preferably a cotton one that is well-ventilated and allows air to pass through. Make sure that the fasteners are neither too tight, nor too loose.
  • Change your mask every 4 hours since sweat and oil can make it a breeding spot for bacteria. Also, take care to wash it in warm water with a mild detergent every day if you’re using a non-disposable one.

Treating maskne

Maskne is just another form of acne, and treating it isn’t rocket science. Let your skin breathe when you’re at home. Avoid touching the areas of a breakout with bare, unclean hands. Use skincare products formulated specially for acne-prone skin and keep a tab on what you’re consuming. Dairy and too much sugar can often aggravate acne so it might be best to stay away from these for a while.

Can facial hair aggravate maskne?

Facial hair can aggravate maskne if not cared for in the right manner. A beard tends to trap air, moisture, and dirt which often time can worsen your breakouts. Does this mean you ditch the mask if you have a slight hint of hair on your face? Definitely not! The trick is to keep it clean. Use a mild face wash and make sure to cleanse your beard twice a day – before putting your mask on and after returning home. Keep a beard oil handy to moisturize the skin underneath your beard and prevent it from getting all dry and scruffy.  

The bottom line

Maskne is a result of your skin’s pores being blocked. While masks are here to stay (at least for a while), maskne should not; all you need is some extra care for your skin. Keep your skin hydrated and your masks clean, men!

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