Although wearing a mask can help keep you and others safe in the COVID 19 pandemic, wearing a face mask for an extended period of time can lead to irritation of the skin or cause break outs. Face masks can cause irritation because they trap moisture, sweat, oil and other impurities close to the skin. As a result, one’s skin could breakout in acne, inflamed hair follicles, contact dermatitis or rosacea. Masks are also inclined to shift position when worn, resulting in individuals constantly touching their faces to adjust them, leaving behind dirt and other irritants on the skin. Moving a mask to eat or take a sip of a drink, creates friction between the skin and the mask which can also lead to irritation. Talking and breathing in the mask creates a build-up of moisture that can change the skin’s natural pH level. Consequently, there is an overgrowth of bacteria which can lead to break outs. To avoid mask acne, one can take the following preventative measures.
Keeping your face clean is critical and before a mask is worn you should wash your face with a gentle cleanser. Look for cleansers containing ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, as these ingredients keep pores clean and reduce bacteria levels on the skin. This should be followed by a moisturiser, as dry skin is a common problem associated with wearing a mask. Ideally the moisturiser should contain an anti-inflammatory ingredient, like niacinamide, as this will support your skin’s natural barrier and retain water in the skin. This ingredient will also regulate oil production, thus, reducing the chances of a breakout. One should also consider the type of mask worn. For example, cloth masks can absorb natural oils which can trick the skin into producing more oil to compensate, leading to more acne. The best cloth mask option for clear skin is one made from or lined with silk. Silk has antimicrobial properties and has been shown to be better suited to individuals with sensitive skin. Also consider masks made from more breathable materials, such as cotton which is lighter and less irritating on the skin. It is also essential to regularly clean your mask, as residual oils and any dirt will affect your skin.