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The acne around one’s mouth and jaw which follows long hours of wearing a mask is called maskne (mask acne). It may show up in the form of pimples, tiny bumps, redness or irritation.

Maskne: How to Treat and Prevent the New Acne


Wajiha Zahra
Wajiha Zahra

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“Oh, it’s a real thing!”

Claims Dr. Mona Gohara as she discusses maskne. “Oh my God, you can just feel things forming with the oil and sweat swishing around.”

Maskne has become almost as big a pandemic as covid19 itself. We have learned to prevent Covid-19 with masks, we have learned to treat it with excellent care and medication. But how do we treat maskne?

Wearing a mask is a mandatory action of most public places around the world. There is no way around it. If you’re troubled with maskne, read on to find treatment and prevention tips.

What is Maskne?

The acne around one’s mouth and jaw which follows long hours of wearing a mask is called maskne (mask acne). It may show up in the form of pimples, tiny bumps, redness or irritation.

People who suffer from acne, rosacea, contact dermatitis, and folliculitis may also suffer maskne as it can trigger their skin conditions.

What Causes Maskne?

The dirt, oil, moisture, and dead skin cells on your skin get trapped due to masks, clogging your pores. This is the easiest way to describe maskne.

Maskne is not like regular acne or acne that is the result of a hormonal imbalance. It falls under the umbrella of Acne Mechanica. Acne Mechanica occurs when the skin experiences external conditions like pressure, friction, rubbing, squeezing, or stretching.

In addition to that, the excess moisture due to breathing and sweating trapped under the mask can also result in acne and a disturbed skin barrier.

Of course, it is also possible that your skin is sensitive to the material of your mask.

Maskne has caused people to become more aware of their appearance, even causing a wave of reluctance in taking the masks off!
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

How to Treat Maskne?

Your maskne symptoms could be the result of any of the mentioned reasons. Here is what you can do about them.

Cleanse Regularly

Pandemic or no pandemic, washing your face and cleansing is important. However, since you’re dealing with extra sweat and clogging make sure not to miss it.

Cleanse your face at least thrice a day

  • In the morning
  • After sweating (in case of a workout or outdoor activities)
  • Before bed

Exfoliate

Try exfoliation once a week to clear out the clogged pores. Dr. Rodney suggests that apart from cleansing, using a gentle exfoliator and a hydrating moisturizer are the two most important steps in treating maskne.

  • Use a gentle physical exfoliator once a week
  • If you have sensitive skin, use a chemical exfoliator every two weeks

Use a Light Hydrating Moisturizer

Push your heavy creams to the back, especially if it’s the summer. Heavy creams tend to clog pores and trap sweat. This can make your skin prone to maskne. Instead, opt for a light non-comedogenic moisturizer or serum.

Consider using a Retinol

Retinol increases cell turnover rate, which can help battle the dead skin cell issue. Start by using it 2-3 times a week and gradually increase the rate.

Along with battling maskne, it also increases collagen production for youthful skin.

Go easy on the Makeup

Base makeup products like primer, foundation, and concealer can clog pores and worsen maskne. Try going makeup-free while you’re treating maskne.

Spot treatments with mild active ingredients can speed up the healing process. Consult your dermatologist to find the best active ingredients for your skin type.
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

Use Acne Treating Products

Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are excellent ingredients for treating maskne. People with sensitive skin can also use them. Look for a gentle cleanser and moisturizer which has both or either of these magical ingredients.

Educate yourself about skincare products in the market and learn what’s best for you. Start here!

Switch your Mask

Use a double-layered pure cotton mask instead of a surgical mask. A pure fabric mask is more breathable and traps less moisture. It also absorbs sweat and leaves less on the skin. Just make sure you wash it daily!

How to Prevent Maskne

Whether you’re already dealing with maskne or are one of the lucky ones who haven’t gotten it yet, learning how to prevent it is a must for healthy clear skin.

Here are some helpful tips.

Toss Disposable Masks after each Use

Ask any doctor how many times they use a surgical mask, and they’ll tell you once. A surgical mask is meant for single-use, so don’t go using it for weeks! Swap for a new one daily.

Wash your Fabric Masks

Pure fabric masks are an excellent choice for preventing maskne, as long as you’re washing them regularly! Fabric masks trap a lot of sweat and dirt inside them. Make sure to not wear the same unwashed mask each time.

Simplify your Skincare Routine

It is best not to step out wearing a mask with a 10 step skincare regime underneath it. The fewer products on your skin, the less likely your pores are to get clogged. A simple skincare routine looks like

  • Gentle Cleanser
  • Light Moisturizer
  • Sunscreen

Use Powder Makeup

As mentioned before, base products tend to clog pores causing maskne. If you can go makeup-free, do it! Otherwise, opt for powder options instead of cream ones.

Keeping a mask on for hours can not only affect your skin, but also makes it harder to breathe and cause feelings of suffocation. Make sure you give your skin a break every chance you get.
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Let Your Skin Breathe

The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends removing your mask for a few minutes every 4 hours.

In spaces like parks and at home, remove your mask and practice social distancing. This will give your skin a break.

Moisturize your Skin before Wearing a Mask

Masks can irritate sensitive and dry skin types. Use a light non-comedogenic moisturizer if you have either of those skin types.

Create a barrier between your skin and the mask. A thin layer of a healing ointment is best for people with sensitive skin.

Choose the Right Mask

There are tons of options now when it comes to masks. Don’t be shy, try them out. Soft cotton masks are an excellent option. Make sure you use a clean and dry mask every time.

Final Verdict

Covid19 has been around for quite some time, and following SOPs is the only way to fight it. Masks may be a hassle, but it is necessary to wear them.

Cleansing, moisturizing, and wearing the right mask will help you battle maskne. However, if you have developed any serious acne, make sure to consult your dermatologist.

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