If a constellation of pimples have appeared along your jawline or around your nose, then chances are that 'maskne' is the culprit. A term first coined by Elizabeth Arden Consulting Dermatologist Dr Dendy Engelman, maskne describes the spots (a.k.a the acne) that appear on your skin as a result of wearing your government-mandated face mask.
Dr Engelman explains, ‘A lot of patients I’ve been seeing both virtually and socially distanced in person are complaining of Acne Mechanica – or Maskne.'
Of course, sporting a face covering when you're in public places is a vital part of the team effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. So, how to lessen the potential impact on your skin? Read on for a few minor adjustments to make to your skincare regime and mask hygiene, to nix those parades of blemishes.
First off, what is Maskne?
'Maskne’ is one of the most prevalent concerns of post-lockdown skin, warns Dr Paris Acharya, leading cosmetic doctor based on Harley Street.
'Friction is created due to the pressure, stretching and rubbing caused by the material. This friction between the material and the skin can cause irritation, leading to breakouts on the lower part of your face. As skin is blocked and closed off from air, mixed in with our breath and bacteria from our mouth, skin can become inflamed,' adds Dr Rita Rakus.
Moreover, Dr Acharya adds that the problem can be made worse if you don't wash you mask regularly. 'The less you wash it the more saliva and nasal secretions will be living on your mask,' she says. In a word, eww.
Take heed of the tricks below, and bring clear skin back into your life.
1/ Keep your skin clean–and hydrated
Regular cleansing is paramount if you want to stop breakouts. 'To avoid irritation, you can use a gentle cleanser to wash your face thoroughly and keep it hydrated – dry skin can also lead to irritation and acne breakouts, which is why skin needs to be cleansed daily,' adds Dr Rakus.
'Use products containing hyaluronic acid as these help to maintain a healthy skin barrier function and lock in moisture so skin doesn't dry out,' she adds.
2 / Invest in microbiome-friendly skincare
A gentle cleanse when removing your mask is an additional way to protect the skin. However, if you are cleansing more frequently, opt for a gentle, prebiotic cleanser which focuses on restoring the balance of the skin's microflora (the good bacteria).
3/ Re-think your mask material
'My advice for helping to prevent mechanically induced acne is firstly, looking at the type of material of mask you are wearing. The best fabrics to help reduce friction are silk and tencel, which both have the lowest friction wear and glides across the skin without irritating it,' says Dr Engleman.
4/ Apply a barrier cream
'For any parts of your skin that the mask touches and rubs, I would apply a physical barrier to help minimise the contact on those areas where the mask is touching,' adds Dr Engleman. Try a touch of Elizabeth Arden eight hour cream, and see how that helps.
5/ Try salicylic acid
Salicylic acid is a key skincare component in the treatment of acne because it unclogs pores, exfoliates, reduces inflammation, and reduces oil secretions.
'At different concentrations, the side effects include dryness and mild irritation for approximately six to eight weeks which can be combatted by a humectant hydrating lotion like the ‘Obagi Hydrate,' adds Dr Zainab Al-Mukhtar.
Don't forget that skin should always be protected by an SPF30 and above.
6/ Wash your mask frequently
'It is suggested to wash your mask as soon as you arrive home and have used the mask to avoid any germs from lingering until your next use of the mask. Disposable masks are advised to be disposed off as soon as they have been used,' says Dr Rakus.
One thing to note: be sure to cut the strings before placing them in the bin and there has been reports of wildlife getting caught up in them.
7/ Go make-up free
Obvious, but worth a mention. 'Some types of make-up can block pores as it is, so when you wear a mask on top of this, it can make to the flare up on ‘maskne’. It would be advisable to go make-up free where possible if you do suffer from breakouts, or use a tinted SPF for some coverage on the skin, such as the ZO Skin Health Sunscreen + Powder SPF30,' advises Dr Rakus.
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