We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin. – André Berthiaume
One of the most common complaints from the COVID pandemic has got to be mask acne aka “Mascne.” Nurses from all over the world are having to wear N-95 masks for an extended period of time and are complaining of the horrendous damage being done to their face. Healthcare providers are forced to reuse and clean their PPE’s (Personal Protective Equipment) which irritates the skin and clogs pores.
Masks cause irritation through agitation and chaffing. Tight pressure on the skin can cause breakdown. Dryness and sensitivity can also follow with constant use of the mask. Pores then get clogged and become pimples.
Skin Care Tips To Prevent Irritation And Breakouts
Dr Beth Haney, DNP, FNP-C, FAAN CEO of Lux Medical Spa in Yorba Linda California, an upscale medical spa specializing in enhancing the natural beauty of patients who want to look their very best, shares some practical tips to keep mask acne for healthcare providers at bay.
- Wash Your Face: Cleanse your skin with a gentle cleanser before and after work. This will prevent oil and debris buildup on your face and within pores. Remember, pores cannot shrink but they can enlarge when they are consistently filled with old skin cells and dirt. Do not wear your facial coverings or masks too tight unless you are wearing N95 masks during aerosol producing procedures. Pressure on the skin tends to create an inflammatory response leading to breakouts. Use a new mask and throw away disposable masks after each patient encounter to limit the amount of debris and bacteria that collects on the mask and ultimately, on your skin. It’s also important to avoid touching your face, picking at acne lesions, and using pore-clogging products. Look for make-up that is labeled mineral makeup because these types tend to be less inflammatory and comedonal.
- Facial Redness And Soreness Woes: Remedies for redness and soreness depend upon the cause. If you struggle with redness and acne from rosacea, there are medications such as metronidazole, clindamycin, or doxycycline and others that are used to help control it. Also, avoiding potential triggers such as sunlight, alcohol, or spicy foods can help. When outdoors, daily application of broad-spectrum sunscreen with titanium dioxide, avobenzone, or zinc oxide is also suggested. If the redness and soreness are from wearing masks all day at work, you might have an allergy to a material in the mask or you may be wearing it incorrectly or too tightly. Removing masks as soon as appropriate to let the skin “breathe” might also help. Lastly, if you’re red and sore from sun exposure, well, you know what I’ll say to that…sunscreen!
- Over The Counter Remedies: Good OTC products include cleansers that have salicylic or glycolic acid in them and topical lotions that contain benzoyl peroxide. There are several effective OTC products for acne but if you struggle with moderate to severe breakouts, you may want to visit your medical skin care expert or dermatologist for prescription remedies. It is very important to gently cleanse your face because acneic skin is very sensitive and it is a good idea avoid scrubs for the same reason.
Our faces are the first thing people see when they meet us. “Mascne” doesn’t have to be your new normal. Employing excellent skin care hygiene can help you combat those pesky breakouts and ensure a healthy vibrant complexion.