If masks are still a large part of your everyday routine, what can you do to reduce your chances of developing the dreaded maskne?
Dealing with maskne can be tricky, the masks we use create the perfect storm for harboring this stubborn skin condition. You might even be tempted to wear your mask more frequently than you should, simply because it hides your maskne so well. But we all know that hiding the problem doesn’t treat it!
When it comes to treating any form of acne, knowledge about the causes of the different types goes a long way. We’ve outlined some of the common mask acne triggering pathways and the simple skincare hacks for each one below.
5 Mask Acne Causes And Their Hacks
This is a big one! Does your mask bite into your skin? Is it too loose and therefore move around a lot? A type of acne found in mask wearing professions or in sports where helmets and face coverings are commonplace is acne mechanica. This form of acne is caused by friction, which is when your skin is rubbed, squeezed, or stretched too often. It can present no matter what your skin’s history with acne is!
Make sure your masks can be fitted properly to your face. Not too tight, and not too loose either! Heavy-duty N95 masks should always be fitted (they do come in various sizes).
Mask acne can develop as a result of your pores and hair follicles becoming clogged with excess sebum, sweat, dead skin cells, bateria, and external pollutants.
Do not skip the cleanse after wearing your mask (even if you didn’t wear it all day). Your skin will have built up a layer of gunk, and air trapped behind your mask makes it harder for this layer to dry out and naturally fall off. An oil cleanser will help deep clean your pores AND moisturise your skin in one step.
This means exactly what it sounds like. If you breathe, talk, and sweat into your mask (all of which are unavoidable), it has a direct correlation to your skin’s microbiome! Any uptick in moisture increases your chances of bacteria or fungal infections developing in the area covered by your mask. They love a damp environment!
There are a few things you can do. Firstly, your skin needs a breather every now and then, if it’s possible a 15-minute mask break every couple of hours will help regulate levels of unnecessary moisture. Another quick tip is for when you are on a mask break, spritz the inside with a solution of rubbing alcohol to kill off any infection spreading microbes.
Skin that needs extra TLC
If you happen to know you have sensitive skin, the type of material and even the chemicals it could be treated with can cause irritation of the skin. Which you guessed it, means acne. Make sure you wash your reusable masks with a mild cleanser, without fragrance to minimise aggravation to your skin.
Masks that are made of natural material like cotton and silk are more readily tolerated by sensitive skin. Make sure you don’t get masks that have been pre-treated.
Bacteria is a major acne causing pathway, so it stands to reason that it should be something to look out for when trying to clear up mask acne. Bacteria builds up on your skin throughout the day and collects in the fibres of your mask.
Wash that mask! Use an unscented washing detergent if possible or an antibacterial soap. Anything with a fragrance can cause that much more irritation. Dispose of your masks daily if you wear it for most of the day or you sweat a lot. If you wear it for only a small fraction of the day you can stretch the usage to two days. .
What Mask Acne?
Mask acne is when an area of the face that is regularly in contact with, or covered by, a face mask breaks out in acne. This type of acne has been troubling doctors and nurses since they began wearing clinical and surgical face masks – so it is far from a new complaint brought about by COVID-19.
At its root, acne is a chronic medical skin condition that can present in the following types:
- Comedones that fall into two categories: open ones called ‘blackheads’ and closed ones are called ‘whiteheads’
- Papules, small red bumps on the skin
- Pustules, papules that are filled with pus
- Nodules and cysts that are large, painful, inflamed and swollen.
People with acne also report skin redness and pain, with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and scarring.
Acne is usually caused by a production of excess oil (sebum), and skin cells that don’t shed properly and thus collect in the pore. These dead skin cells and oil mix along the pore, creating a blockage known as a microcomedone.
Acne causing bacteria (Cutibacterium acnes) feed on this concoction of sebum and dead skin cells, multiplying in and around the plug. This signals to the body to start producing chemicals that result in inflammation. This inflamed plug grows in size to form a comedone that is visible to the naked eye. If this comedone bursts, it spreads bacteria and pus onto the surrounding skin, which can cause further inflammation, papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts.
Treating Mask Acne At The Source
The market is flooded with easily accessible over-the-counter cleansers and treatments for unclogging pores (salicylic acid, glycolic acid) and killing off pesky bacteria (benzoyl peroxide). But it should be said that while these mask acne skincare products treat the symptoms, they will never target or treat the factors that cause acne in the first place.
This where Australian telehealth providers, like Qr8 MediSkin come in. Their experienced team of doctors, pharmacists, and Skincare Support Team. Will craft the best treatment for your mask acne; one that targets the acne-causing pathways that are unique to your skin condition. They will help you identify any triggers; as well as guide you through any retinol purge and manage and reduce post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from acne scarring.