As you all should be aware after nearly 11 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, mask wearing remains standard for medical personnel and the general public alike. Obviously, healthcare workers and other essential workers who have direct contact with others are wearing masks 8-12 hours per day.
With this increased use of face masks, we at Maine Laser Skin Care have seen more and more skin-related complaints. The most common complaint is the development of acne-like breakouts under the area of the mask and now commonly known as "maskne".
We frequently see cases of maskne (pronounced like "acne"; i.e. MASK-knee) every week. Several new dermatology articles discuss the causes, treatment, and prevention of this side effect.
The increase in skin breakouts are particularly notable on the chin, nose, and upper cheeks. Many dermatologists identify this form of acne as acne mechanica, which is caused by the rubbing of the mask material over these areas when speaking or making facial expressions.
Tighter-fitting masks such as N95 and medical grade surgical masks are most effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19, as they allow less air to enter and escape around the edges of the mask. However, these masks also cause more friction of the mask material against the skin with inevitable facial movement.
The simple solution for this form of maskne is to keep both the face and the mask clean. That rule applies whether your face is experiencing maskne or not.
Especially since makeup is no longer really necessary for most women who wear masks all day, the skin care consensus is to wash your face in the morning. Then, clean the facial areas of greatest friction with alcohol prior to putting on the mask for the day.
It is equally important for the mask to also be clean. With maskne starting or to prevent its development, wear a clean mask every day either by using a disposable surgical/N95 mask daily, or a clean mask that is washable and reusable.
The best masks to prevent chin maskne should be long enough to extend under the chin while still obscuring the nose. This coverage allows the best protection, while also allowing some chin movement with the least amount of friction.
Even though we have all been (or should have all been) wearing masks for almost a year, there will be several more months to go until we achieve true herd immunity when vaccine distribution saturates the population. Until then, please keep wearing your masks, and stay safe while also taking care of your skin.
We will all get through this together! We at Maine Laser Skin Care are here to support you.