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'Maskne’ or face mask associated acne

At the Cosmetics Doc we are seeing more people complaining of spots, redness or inflammation around the mouth, cheeks, and jawline. Since the Covid19 pandemic, masks and face coverings have become a legal requirement and are deemed essential in reducing the spread of the virus. However they can also cause an unfortunate side effect which has become commonly known as ‘maskne’ or ‘mask acne’. Any pre-existing skin condition including acne, eczema, psoriasis or rosacea can deteriorate when people are experiencing stress and anxiety but Maskne can be a completely new skin complaint.


What is Maskne?


Doctors have always recognised Acne Mechanica which is a type of Acne caused mechanically (as the name suggests) by friction against the skin. This was traditionally seen in people wearing PPE for long periods or those wearing caps or helmets for work like professional sportspeople.


When you are wearing a mask your skin may get irritated by the material rubbing against it. The skin below gets warmer, partly from the moisture in your breath, consequently sweat and skin oils can accumulate. We know the function of a mask is to be occlusive to droplets but this results in a humid environment which effects normal skin function. This means pores block with sebum and bacteria can get trapped causing acne. Frequently touching your mask or moving it on your face can mean you transfer bacteria from your hands to your face.


How to reduce the risk of Maskne?


· Use mild products to cleanse your skin twice daily

· Use a mask with a comfortable fit to prevent it moving and irritating your skin

· Use masks that provide the least friction and where possible avoid synthetic fabrics

· Ensure you use a moisturiser or even a barrier cream under your mask

· Ensure any products you use are non-comedogenic

· Wash your mask regularly (if reusable)

· Use gentle products to avoid further irritating your skin

· You may need a medical treatment like salicylic acid to treat and unblock your pores



Remember Dr Becky is able to assess your skin remotely or face to face and recommend a skincare regime to help.

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