Wearing a protective face covering is a critical aspect of slowing the spread of COVID-19. However, cloth masks can be hard on your skin, causing rashes, itchiness, peeling, and “maskne” or mask acne. Friction, trapped sweat, and dirt, and bacteria from re-wearing disposable masks are all potential culprits. Here are the top ways to avoid skin problems while wearing a mask at work, school, the grocery store, and elsewhere.
- Cleanse and moisturize daily: To remove potentially pore-clogging buildup, wash your face regularly, especially at night after wearing a mask all day. Apply moisturizer immediately after cleansing to provide a protective layer and reduce dryness.
- Avoid wearing makeup under the mask: Makeup may clog your pores at any time, but it’s even more likely to occur beneath a mask. If you’re wearing a face-covering all day, no one will see the skin beneath your mask anyway, so give your pores a break and skip the makeup.
- Cut back on irritating products: Leave-on salicylic acid, retinoid, and aftershave may have a beneficial impact on your skin overall, but they also cause irritation and have a drying effect for some people. If you normally use these products but wearing a mask makes your skin more sensitive lately, remove them from your skin care regimen for now.
- Use caution when considering new skincare products: While chemical peels, microneedling, and exfoliating treatments are known to improve skin texture and tone, they often require a bit of healing time. If your work or lifestyle doesn’t allow you to go without a mask for a few days, this may not be the right time for such procedures.
- Follow your treatment plan for any preexisting skin conditions: If you and your dermatologist have established a strategy for treating your existing acne, rosacea, or other skin condition, continue to follow your treatment plan. Does wearing a mask conflict with this? Ask your dermatologist for advice.
- Wear the right mask: Purchase face coverings made from a soft, breathable fabric. Cotton is the best material for people with sensitive skin. The mask should also fit snugly and comfortably across the nose, on the cheeks, and under the chin.
- Take mask breaks every four hours: Wash your hands before removing your mask. Then, only do so in safe settings, such as alone in the break room, inside your car, or outside when standing at least six feet from others.
- Wash or dispose of masks as directed: Healthcare professionals recommend washing face coverings after each use to remove bacteria, oil, and skin cells that have been collected on the fabric. Wash the mask by hand or on the gentle cycle using warm or hot water and hypoallergenic detergent. If you have disposable masks, throw them away after each use.
At Arlington Dermatology, we treat a range of dermatological conditions. If you’re struggling with maskne or other skin problems, please call 847-392-5440 to schedule an appointment with one of our dermatologists today.