Maskne is the New Acne
2020 has been a challenging year for all of us. Adjusting to life during the pandemic has required us to adapt and evolve in a lot of ways – some of which have been very unexpected.
One major adjustment we’ve all had to get used to is the dreaded face mask. When we started wearing facial protection earlier in the year, most of us probably hadn’t anticipated that it would come with a rather unfortunate and frankly annoying side-effect: acne, commonly referred to as Maskne. As if a highly infectious disease wasn’t hard enough to deal with!
Maskne is real!
Although it may seem like a new phenomenon, mask-related acne or Maskne isn’t at all new or made-up. Most medical workers required to wear surgical masks have had to deal with this exact issue in the past.
Now, with the general population required to wear face masks in public, Maskne has become a widespread problem, so much so that the American Association of Dermatology (AAD) has begun to advise people on how to combat it. Many people have contacted their dermatologists regarding breakouts to the point where it’s become a mini-epidemic of its own.
So, if you’ve been having acne flare-ups recently, it could very well be the doing of your mask.
How does a mask cause acne?
Ironically, the very thing that keeps us from transmitting COVID-19 is also what causes Maskne. When you breathe, cough, or sneeze, the droplets that escape your mouth and nose are trapped by the mask. That’s good for curbing the spread of the Coronavirus, but not ideal from a skincare point of view. Your mask traps warm air, saliva, sweat, sebum, and bacteria, thereby creating a humid environment that can cause a variety of skin related problems.
The most common of these is Acne Mechanica, which is the result of excessive heat, friction, or occlusion on the skin. Coupled with the moist environment that a mask creates, you’re looking at a breeding ground for pimples and acne due to your pores getting clogged. The skin also becomes dry and itchy. This is also why some athletes suffer from acne; the prolonged use of protective facial gear leads to irritation of the skin that often results in a breakout
Other mask-related skin conditions
Aside from Acne Mechanica, many people report a variety of other mask-related skin problems. Of, these the most common are:
Rosacea – Redness and bumps that are usually caused by heat
Perioral dermatitis – A scaly or bumpy rash that affects regions of the face (the mouth, cheeks, nose, or eyes)
Contact dermatitis – An inflammatory rash that’s flares-up due to an allergic reaction from one of the materials in the mask