Tips and Tricks for Mastering Maskne

Mask acne got you down? Learn how to prevent breakouts before they begin.



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With mask-wearing comes mask acne. We talked to Ganary Dabiri, staff dermatologist with CharterCare Medical Associates, about how to prevent and treat breakouts.

Many people are facing breakouts from wearing a mask due to COVID-19. Is there a technical term for mask acne?
The term being used to describe acne exacerbated by wearing a mask is maskne. It is a form of acne mechanica, which is a term used by dermatologists to describe acne that develops from skin irritations caused by friction, heat or pressure.

What are some tips for preventing breakouts caused by prolonged mask use?
Breakouts from wearing a mask either may be new acne or a flare-up of current acne or rosacea caused by irritation. The more ingredients that remain on your face after application, the more irritated your skin will get under your mask. Therefore, it is important to reduce your skin care regimen while wearing a mask. Stick to a basic mild, non-soap cleanser and a light fragrance-free moisturizer. You may consider using a salicylic-based face wash that removes dirt, dead skin cells and oil from your pores to prevent breakouts. Drugstore brands like Clean and Clear, CeraVe, La Roche-Posay, Neutrogena and Cetaphil work well. You also may want to take safe mask breaks. If you are sweating under your mask, make sure you are cleansing your face during these mask breaks. You can use micellar water or acne facial pads such as Replenix Acne Solutions Exfoliating Acne Pads or Neutrogena Rapid Clear Acne Facial Pads. Make sure your face is dry before putting your mask back on. It is also important to incorporate a mild exfoliating scrub once or twice a week to your face and you may also consider having multiple masks available and switching one out every couple of hours if you need to be wearing a mask for prolonged periods of time.Can makeup make it worse? Are there products you should avoid?
Skip the makeup. When you occlude the skin, it enhances penetration of products into the deeper layers of the skin. Wearing a mask is occluding for your skin, so the mask allows oil, dirt and makeup to penetrate deeper into your pores, leading to skin irritation which causes breakouts.

Are there certain fabrics/materials you recommend when buying a mask to help curb breakouts?
Your mask must offer the protection you need for the task you are performing. If you are a frontline worker, safety comes first. Continue wearing the recommended personal protective equipment for your job. However, for personal daily use, it is recommended that you wear a mask that is 100 percent cotton. Washing the mask after every use is key to keeping your mask, and ultimately, your face clean.

If you do break out from your mask, what can you do to treat it?
If your breakouts have already started, adjusting your skin care routine is key. Another product to consider adding when you get home and are not wearing a mask, is a benzoyl peroxide-based topical as a wash or leave-on lotion that can also be used to spot treat. If you are getting breakouts from wearing a mask that you cannot control, see a board-certified dermatologist. There are prescription topical medications and prescription oral medications that can be used to treat your new or flaring acne or rosacea. Your board-certified dermatologist will be able to determine what kind of breakout you are experiencing and tailor your treatment specific to your needs.

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