‘Maskne is real’ – preventing breakouts during the pandemic


COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WRIC)- Skin irritation from face coverings has become so common during the coronavirus pandemic that dermatologists have adopted a new word for it–a hybrid of ‘mask’ and ‘acne’ known as ‘maskne.’

Even employees at Dermatology Associates of Virginia aren’t immune to this symptom of stopping the spread. Lauren Bernard, a medical assistant, is required to wear a mask throughout her 8 hour workday.

“For those of you that think it’s a joke…it’s real,” Bernard said.

Dermatologist Dr. Amanda Schmitt said ‘maskne‘ or mask rash is more common among people with pre-existing skin conditions but it can happen to anyone.

“I’m definitely seeing a lot more patients come in with facial irritations, facial rashes, flares of things like acne and rosacea that may have been under control with regular treatment and then have flared since starting to wear masks,” Schmitt said.

Some experts have suggested that cotton masks are a better option than rayon or polyester because the fabric is more breathable. Schmitt agrees but added that any mask can lead to a build up of sweat and oil, causing irritation.

“You should try to change it as regularly as you can, regardless of what kind of mask it is,” she said.

Especially if you have sensitive skin, Schmitt said washing cloth masks using certain detergents can also cause problems. She said people should use fragrance-free, hypoallergenic detergent and avoid dryer sheets.

Schmitt said what you do before you put on a mask also matters. She recommended using gentle face wash, applying light moisturizer and avoiding heavy makeup.

“You don’t want to put anything heavy, anything comedogenic or anything with a lot of active ingredients on your face when you put a mask on,” Schmitt said. “Anything that you have on top of the skin can just melt away, get into the pours and really irritate.”

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