Masks are an essential component in controlling the spread of COVID-19. They work if they are used and they are here to stay with us for a while. Masks can have some consequences for our skin, especially when used for several hours a day, like many health care professionals are doing.

One particular type of reaction is “mask-induced acne” also known as “maskne”. This comes from the concept of acne mechanica or friction-induced acne. Humidity can also accumulate and clog the pores leading to acne formation.

Here a few tips to treat and prevent acne that can appear on your face covered by your mask:

  1. Use a gentle skin cleanser: Using lukewarm water, wash with a gentle fragrance-free face cleanser (for instance Dove bar soap or Cetaphil cleanser). Pat skin dry. Avoid scrubbing or exfoliating.

  2. Apply a non-comedogenic moisturizer with SPF 30+ protection approximately one hour before applying your mask so that skin is no longer moist when the mask is applied.

  3. Avoid Vaseline or oils (such as coconut oil, cocoa butter) as these can contribute to acne formation.

  4. If possible, break up with your make up…for a while at least. Try using a tinted sunscreen moisturizer (such as Elta MD tinted sunscreen) or powdered make up which is lighter.

  5. Take breaks during mask wearing during the day if and when possible. I like to do this in my office, lifting up the sides of my mask from the inside (to avoid touching the outside of mask) followed by washing of hands.

  6. If acne is painful and persistent, we can prescribe medications to help address this inflammation.

If you notice other types of skin eruptions under your mask, contact our dermatology department for further assessment. There are other types of reactions that can also occur with masks - such as irritant or allergic contact dermatitis and contact urticaria that can be treated. We are here if you need us!

To schedule with one of our dermatologists, call our office at 206.860.5571.

July 17, 2020 | by Margaret Mioduszewski MD