As face masks gain popularity across the country (CDC data shows that face mask acceptance is now on the rise), many men and women are finding that they’re suffering from increased breakout and acne on their face, or as it’s becoming more commonly known – ‘maskne’. We spoke to Dr Vikram Rajkomar, a board-certified dermatologist from Pall Mall Medical to find out the ins and outs of ‘maskne’ and whether there’s anything we can do to stop our skin suffering at the hands of face masks.
Why do we need to wear face masks?
In an editorial published on July 14th in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the CDC affirms that face coverings are a critical weapon in the fight against COVID-19.
Research has shown that masks or cloth coverings can help limit the spread of infection by preventing people who unknowingly have COVID-19 spreading the disease to others, and despite acceptance of this being on the rise, there are still many American citizens who are refusing to wear one.
What is ‘maskne’?
You might have heard of the term ‘maskne’ or ‘mascne’ spiralling across the internet in recent weeks. As hospital staff have had to wear face-coverings since coronavirus came into fruition, those staff members in particularl have acknowledged that the skin is breaking out due to wearing a face covering.
For those of us who suffer with hormonal breakouts on the chin or nose, worrying about how the skin will react to a face covering can be concerning. But do the benefits outweigh the negatives and are these reason enough to avoid wearing a mask all together?
We spoke to Consultant Dermatologist – Vikram Rajkomar who explained why ‘maskne’ appears in the first place:
“Acne is caused by overproduction of sebum by the sebaceous glands. Wearing a tight-fitting face mask could mean that sebum and sweat remain in close contact to the skin, akin to wearing heavy oil-based makeup. This combination increases the risk of acne or breakouts.”
Luckily, there are steps we can take to prevent ’maskne’, even for those of us who have an allergy to face masks. Dr Rajkomar suggests:
- Wash the face twice per day with a gentle wash and avoid facial scrubs or exfoliating which can damage the skin.
- Ensure that the skin is well hydrated, by drinking enough water and using a fragrance-free moisturiser to the skin to avoid direct rubbing of the mask with the skin.
- Wash your masks regularly as they can accumulate sebum and face oil (including makeup) which leads to development of acne.
- Avoid tight masks.If acne is already present, constant rubbing with a face mask will worsen the inflammation.
- If you think you have an allergy to the mask’s material, seek advice from your doctor who may prescribe a mild steroid such hydrocortisone.
“Wearing a mask is vital to stopping the spread of the disease so ensure you follow the advice on wearing face masks. However, be sure to remove masks when they’re not needed, for example, in an empty room or in the car.”
What daily changes can I make to avoid ‘maskne’?
Simple changes to your day-to-day life can limit the number of breakouts you experience.
Eat a well-balanced diet, with low glycaemic index food. Avoid food which increases blood sugar quickly, such as white bread, white rice, sugary drinks and cornflakes, all of which can be linked with increased risk of acne. Continue using sunblock as the exposed areas of the face still require protection.
Dr Vikram Rajkomar is a highly experienced Consultant Dermatologist, who treats both adults and children at Pall Mall Medical – a family-run private healthcare provider focussed on delivering healthcare services that meet patients’ needs and help them to thrive and live longer, healthier, happier lives.
Dr Rajkomar is a highly skilled & reputable dermatologist, available for all adult and paediatric private dermatology needs.