It’s being dubbed “mask-ne” acne or other skin irritations caused by wearing a mask and with masks required in many public places... and now work places — it’s a growing problem.
The level of irritation can depend on the type of mask you’re wearing and also any skin issues you already have.
“It’s foreign to all of us we’re not used to having something, you know, always making so much pressure and touching our face,” said dermatologist Dr. Steven Grekin.
Dr. Grekin says the tight-fitting N-95 masks are causing a physical irritation and trapping irritants too.
“Everything you’re breathing in and out, it’s staying right there and it’s hot, and you’re getting an extra accumulation of dirt and oil, and it’s plugging our skin,” said Dr. Grekin.
Fabric masks can also cause issues, including dryness and breakouts.
“We need a better washing routine, gentle cleansers to remove the excess dirt and oil, when we’re sleeping and we’re not wearing the mask treat our skin with an appropriate moisturizer,” said Dr. Grekin.
Avoid wearing unnecessary products under your mask.
“Maybe don’t put on your sunscreen moisturizer under your mask, that’s you know getting moved around and pushed into your skin,” said Dr. Grekin.
Grekin says a very low potency hydrocortisone cream can help clear up irritations. If that’s not sufficient.
“There are some prescription acne medicines that are a lotion base that do have antibiotics. it’ll help get rid of a lot of those pimples that are forming under the mask,” said Dr. Grekin.
But save the treatments for home.
“It’s important to try to treat it when you’re not wearing the mask, because again, remember, we don’t want any of the treatment to degrade the material of the mask and then render it less effective,” said Dr. Grekin.
Certain fabrics can also cause irritations for some people in that case, switching to a different type of fabric may help.
It’s also important to wash your fabric mask *often*.. to remove any dirt and bacteria.
Doctors are noticing people who already suffer from skin problems like eczema and rosacea are also more likely to experience flare-ups.
If your mask is causing problems that aren’t responding to over-the-counter options, consider a telehealth visit with a dermatologist.