Have you noticed your skin taking a turn for the worse since the start of the pandemic? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone.
Since March 2020, a significant number of adults (both those who suffer from post-adolescent acne and those who don’t) have reported the appearance of rashes or small, rosacea-like pimples on their cheeks, chins, and noses. And, it turns out that wearing masks is the cause.
Popularly dubbed “maskne,” the condition is a confounding cause of frustration for anyone affected. But why does it appear? And what can you do to stop it from ruining your complexion?
Here’s everything you need to know about maskne.
The causes of maskne
The main reason these breakouts happen is that the prolonged wear of face masks creates the perfect environment for acne-causing bacteria to thrive.
Think about it. If you’re covering part of your face with a piece of fabric that may not be sufficiently breathable, you’re essentially trapping heat and moisture (which come from sweat) on your skin. And that means that every micro-organism living there now has the perfect environment to multiply.
It’s also possible that your skin is reacting to chafing or allergies. But, more often than not, the problem lies in the combination of moisture and sebum, which irritate existing conditions and cause new breakouts.
Does treatment exist?
The thing about maskne is that there’s no specially-developed treatment plan that will magically cure the newly-
developed breakouts caused by your face mask. Essentially, you’ll have to rely on managing the condition so that it can get better over time.
If you’ve already developed maskne, it’s crucial to know that the best treatment plans are always those that are mild.
Instead of reaching for heavy-duty chemicals that could further damage your skin and its microbiome (good bacteria that fight acne-causing micro-organisms), try to do as much as you can to nurture and protect your skin.
When it comes to hygiene, limit your face washing to twice a day. Furthermore, choose a gentle cleanser that won’t strip away all of your skin’s natural oils. Or, worse, kill everything in its path.
As for moisturizing, it’s imperative to choose a lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizer that won’t clog your pores or trap sweat and sebum next to your skin.
Prevention: the better alternative
Fortunately, there’s no better way of addressing mask-caused acne than taking the necessary steps to prevent it. In addition to a gentle cleansing routine and sufficient moisturizing, there’s plenty that you can do to avoid getting these breakouts.
1. Choose face masks made from natural materials
N95 and medical masks may be required in some settings, but you can opt for more skin-friendly alternatives for most everyday activities. Some resources suggest switching to a tightly woven cotton mask, while others suggest opting for silk. Either way, by going with these natural materials, you’ll experience higher levels of breathability and a lower likelihood of moisture trapping.
2. Wash your face mask regularly
According to the CDC, you should wash your mask when it becomes dirty, or at least daily. However, if you’re wearing yours for several hours at a time, it’s not a bad idea to have a couple of clean ones and replace them throughout the day. That way, you won’t be keeping a possibly damp piece of warm cloth on your face for eight hours or more.
3. Don’t touch your face
If you’re prone to acne (with or without wearing a mask), it’s a good idea to train yourself to touch your face less often. It’s also not a bad idea to wash your hands and use hand sanitizer regularly, as this will prevent dirt and bacteria from getting in contact with the skin of your face when you (inevitably) reach to adjust your mask.
4. Skip the makeup
While most of us prefer to look great, makeup can cause a lot of trouble for those prone to skin conditions. Not only does it clog pores, but low-quality products also contain a lot of irritants. So, if you can, keep your face makeup-free. Alternatively, opt for dermatologically tested brands that won’t clog your pores (you can even get a product that contains salicylic acid if that’s what your dermatologist recommended).
Some final thoughts
The fact is, we’re likely to be wearing masks for some time to come. Yes, some places may be easing restrictions, but there’s still a lot that needs to be done until we’re done with the pandemic. So, if you’ve been dealing with maskne for the past year, you’ll have to find ways to treat and prevent it with efficiency.
The great thing about these tips is that you can easily implement them in your everyday life. But, it’s also a good idea to look at other things you can do to boost your skin’s health. Limiting stress, eating a healthy diet, addressing hormonal imbalances, and choosing high-quality skincare products are all excellent ways of keeping your complexion clear and glowing.