Local doctor gives tips on how to avoid acne, breathing difficulties caused by masks

LewisGale Physician shares the simple ways to avoid common complications from wearing a mask

BLACKSBURG, Va. – We’ve been wearing masks for nearly a year. It helps with limiting the spread of COVID-19, but some of us are getting acne underneath.

Dr. Michael Bowman of LewisGale Physicians is both a dual certified facial plastic surgeon and an ENT (ear, nose and throat) doctor. Mask-wearing in the last year has had an interesting impact on his practice.

Dr. Bowman said even though masks cover the majority of the face, people still want to put their best face forward. The surgical side of his practice has seen around a 20% increase in treatments for the top half of the face. That includes muscle-relaxing treatments for in between the brows or a filler to soften the area under your eyes.

Patients have also come in with skin complaints. Dr. Bowman said before seeking any type of treatment, try upgrading your skincare routine at home.

“A good place to start is with a gentle cleanser. Nothing overly abrasive or drying, and then a retinol, which is a retinoid derivative. Lots of products are available over the counter, there’s also some stronger more prescription-strength medications,” said Dr. Bowman.

When it comes to smoothing out the skin under the eye, Dr. Bowman recommended only using a small amount of product to make a big difference.

Another possible cause of breakouts from wearing a mask is makeup. With makeup on under your mask, it gets pressed into your pores more than without a mask and can create acne.

Another common complaint about wearing masks Dr. Bowman noted is nasal blockage.

There are multiple reasons why someone may have a hard time breathing under their mask — allergies, a medical condition or your mask might be too tight.

While surgery is an option, it is not the only one. Dr. Bowman suggested making sure your mask isn’t crimped down too hard on your nose. There are also nasal dilators, breathe right strips and nasal sprays you can get online or over the counter to help open your nostrils.

“Normally you wouldn’t really probably want to wear that around the office, but if your nose is covered up in your mask it can make a huge difference in your breathing,” said Dr. Bowman.

He admitted he wears a dilator under his mask to help him breathe. Once you figure out which option works for you, it can be a temporary or long term solution.

Dr. Bowman recommended nasal sprays like Flonase, Nasacort, Nasonex, antihistamines Claritin, Zyrtec and Allegra. He steered away from suggesting decongestant sprays like Afrin, Sinex and Vicks because they are addictive.

If nasal spray doesn’t work after a month, Dr. Bowman said call your primary doctor or an ENT specialist.

About the Author:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.