Maskne and Other Face Covering Skin Irritations

The general population are now wearing face coverings to protect other people from what they exhale. As it goes, I’ll protect you from me and you’ll protect me from you. You may be discovering that in addition to safety, wearing a face covering may be creating some less than desirable side effects to your skin.

The exhaled breath contains nitrogen, oxygen, argon, carbon dioxide, water vapor and bacteria. Without a face covering these all expel into the air. With a face covering they sit on the skin. Added to that is the natural oil and sweat on the skin. A face covering will also create a bit of heat. Additionally, a face covering may create friction on the face. That friction as well as the accumulation of moisture and bacteria under the mask can lead to skin irritations, rashes, dermatitis and acne breakouts. Healthcare workers, because of the tightness of the N95 mask, can also experience a breakdown of the skin and bruising 

For our own protection and the protection of others we must continue to wear face coverings in public settings there are ways to protect the skin and prevent irritations. Here are some things that you can do to minimize the irritations:

  • For your face covering avoid synthetic materials opt for soft tightly woven natural cotton or hemp. 
  • Cleanse the skin with a gentle cleanser both before and after prolonged wearing of a face covering. Remember to thoroughly wash your hands before washing your face.
  • Hydrate after cleansing.
  • Use skin products with anti-inflammatory ingredients.
  • This is not the time for harsh cleansers, exfoliators, retinols, resurfacers, or peels. Face coverings could produce more dryness, inflammation and irritation.
  • You still need your daily SPF30 every day.
  • In areas where the covering may rub wear a barrier cream.
  • Cover any open wounds to minimize further irritation and risk of infection.
  • Leave the face clean and hydrated without makeup. Let the skin breathe. I predict that eyes and brows are going to be all the rage.
  • Remove and dispose of paper face coverings properly in the trash. These are made for single use to not contaminate your face.
  • Launder cloth face coverings after each use or at least at the end of the day. They should be laundered in hot water and thoroughly rinsed. Do not use fabric softener which can be an irritant to the skin.

At the end of the day, if you have developed skin problems the best solution is to have a teleconference with a licensed esthetician who can offer you specific solutions and an effective routine for your skin.