Maskne is a new term that is a mash-up of the words “mask” and “acne”. Before explaining what maskne is, understanding what acne is is important.
Acne is generally caused by bacteria that gets trapped in the pores. When pores get clogged by dead skin cells and excess oil, the bacteria underneath continue to divide and grow. This results in a red bump or pimple. Sometimes, pus forms when the immune system tries to attack the trapped bacteria, resulting in pustules and whiteheads.
Why do people get maskne?
As mentioned above, people who are already prone to acne are more likely to develop maskne. Does this mean masks cause acne? The answer here is no, not exactly.
If your skin is already acne-prone, chances are that face masks can cause more flare ups and irritate existing blemishes. Cloth masks and surgical masks are both non-sterile surfaces. Both types of masks can absorb sweat, dirt, and germs.
In addition, masks tend to trap heat and moisture. This causes the pores to open up more and encourages the growth of bacteria.
All in all, masks work as a barrier against germs but can also end up acting like a sponge for oil and bacteria.
Maskne prevention tips
1. Avoid touching your mask and face
You should avoid touching your face and mask, especially if your hands are not clean. Not only does it increase your chances of spreading germs like viruses, but it also increases your chances of transferring germs to your face.
2. Change masks regularly
Surgical masks are designed for single-use only. While cloth masks are said to be reusable, it is best to have several on hand so you can change throughout the day.
Disposable masks should be changed and disposed of every 2 to 4 hours, or if the mask becomes wet or soiled. This is a general rule, regardless of COVID-19. Dispose of your face masks in the proper trash bin (ideally a biological/hazardous waste container). Wash your hands after touching the mask.
3. Wash cloth masks everyday
Studies have shown that the fabric used in reusable masks (i.e. cotton, polyester) can harbor a variety of germs. These germs can remain live on the fabric for several days. The majority of these germs are already living on the surface of your skin, which can cause acne.
If you use reusable cloth masks, you should wash them each day. It is best to have several masks which you can change into throughout the day.
Regular detergent is fine to use when washing your masks. Using warm or hot water with some bleach is an effective way to kill germs on the fabric. Ensure that the mask is dried all the way before you wear it. As mentioned previously, moisture can promote bacterial growth and can irritate your skin.
4. Cleanse your face before and after wearing a mask
Because masks absorb oil, dirt, and germs that are on your face, cleansing your face before putting one on can reduce this. Overwashing your skin can dry it out and actually make acne worse, so limit washing your face to once or twice a day.
Maskne treatment at home
If prevention does not work, you may wonder what your maskne treatment options are at home. Treating the cause of pre-existing acne is the most important step to take. Spot-treatment of acne blemishes caused by masks is another option.
Topical gels and creams that contain ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are effective and are available without a prescription. Pimple patches are helpful for covering up pimples, protecting the skin, and shortening the lifespan of a pimple.
Schedule a consultation with your doctor or dermatologist to determine what is right for you.
Masks are a must during any outbreak of disease or pandemic. Unfortunately, masks can trigger unwanted breakouts. Maskne prevention involves changing your masks regularly and cleansing your skin before and after using a mask. If you are acne-prone even without masks, it is best to seek consultation to treat your acne at its source.
Learn more about acne management, here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.