How To Prevent and Treat Maskne

Publish DateJun 26, 2021

It’s been well over a year since we began wearing a mask to protect ourselves and help ease the spread of COVID-19. In some countries, it is compulsory, and it seems that this face accessory is (sadly) here to stay.


While they have played an integral role throughout the global pandemic, mask-wearing has led to some unwelcomed consequences for our skin – especially during those hot summer months!


Continue reading to learn about maskne, how exactly it is caused and how you can prevent and treat breakouts on your face. 

What is Maskne?    

Maskne emerged as a colloquialism last year and, in short, is a literal abbreviation for mask acne.

The skin condition occurs when there is contact between the mask and facial skin, most commonly around the cheeks, chin, and mouth area.

Even for those lucky enough to have flawless complexions before the pandemic began experiencing the undesirable side effects of wearing a mask!

Maskne is a general term that can refer to four possible skin issues, including:

1.  Acne (clogged pores)

2.  Rosacea (redness and pimples)

3.  Folliculitis (infected hair follicles)

4.  Contact dermatitis (sensitive reaction)

If you had any of these conditions before, a mask could definitely cause it to flare up more.

What causes maskne?

To state the obvious, maskne is caused by wearing a mask.  

However, depending on which issue you have (in reference to the list of four above), the causes of the mask can vary.

True acne is caused when your pores get clogged up by oil, bacteria, and dead skin, and wearing a mask will trap all this under your skin. Excessive humidity is also not great for acne-prone complexions. When you naturally sweat to cool off, being behind a mask prevents your skin from breathing, making it more likely to build up, spread bacteria, and clog pores.

Heat is a big contributor to rosacea flare-ups. A combination of heat and constant rubbing can irritate the skin and exacerbate the symptoms.

Folliculitis is most commonly caused by bacteria infecting the hair follicles. With dirt and oil trapped underneath the mask, bacteria block follicles that cause irritation and inflammation.

Contact dermatitis most likely occurs from the friction of the mask rubbing on the face or can even be a reaction to the fabric of a reusable mask or the laundry detergent used for cleaning it.

How to prevent maskne

As they say, prevention is better than cure.

If you haven’t been a victim of maskne just yet, consider yourself lucky and make sure you take these steps to keep these skin issues at bay:


1. Minimize your makeup

Wearing makeup heightens your chances of clogging your pores and worsening breakouts. If you’re wearing your mask for longer periods, try to give the lower section of your face a break. Perhaps you can take this opportunity to improve your eye makeup skills!


2.  Cleanse your skin

Washing your face right before you put your mask on will remove any oil and dead skin cells that can make your mask dirty. As soon as you take it off, you should wash away any build-up oil, dirt, and bacteria too. Double cleansing at night works best to ensure your skin is thoroughly cleaned and readied for your nourishing nighttime skincare routine.


Don’t overdo it though, if you wash your face too often or scrub too hard, it can also aggravate your skin and cause unwanted reactions.


3.  Moisturize your skin

While we want to avoid the moisture brought by humidity and our own breath, our skin must be kept hydrated by moisturizing. A good moisturizer will help to reinforce your skin barrier to prevent friction-induced inflammation.


If you have oily skin already, this is usually a sign that your skin is dehydrated. You will naturally overproduce oil to compensate for the dryness, to which an excessive amount can lead to clogged pores.


4.  Clean your mask

Kudos to you if you’re using a reusable mask! But, don’t forget to wash it regularly. Disposable masks are only meant to be worn for four hours, so this puts into perspective how often you should be washing your reusable mask to remove all that dirt, oil, and dead skin cells that collect over a day.


Try to use organic washing detergent to be more gentle on your sensitive facial skin barrier.


5.  Try a silk face mask

On the topic of reusable face masks, a soft, smooth texture on the skin is more gentle when it comes into contact with your face. The breathable fabric also helps to reduce the humidity from your breath, thus reducing moisture in that area.


Silk also has anti-bacterial properties, meaning there is a lesser chance for bacteria to build up within your mask.

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How to treat maskne

What if you already have maskne?! If you’re looking for a solution, here are some maskne treatment tips:

·       Be consistent with washing your face twice daily as suggested above with a gentle cleanser

·       Finish your cleansing routine with nourishing serumssuch as niacinamide (vitamin B3), to reduce redness, decongest pores and regulate oil production. This is also an excellent serum for battling blemishes and healing scars. Hydrating serums are also a great way to ensure that your skin is penetrated with a good source of hydration.

·       Apply a non-comedogenic moisturizerafter you apply your serums to protect your delicate skin barrier.

·       Avoid touching your face throughout the day. Studies have found that, on average, people touch their face around 20-50 times per hour. Don’t even think about picking! It is very easy to spread bacteria by touching your face.

·       If you prefer reusable masks, make sure you swap to a clean one each day and try a silk fabric for reduced irritation. A disposable mask may be easier in that case (although it’s less sustainable).

·       Make sure your pillowcasesare also cleaned often. Your natural face oils are transferred onto the fabrics as you sleep, which can build up and spread bacteria


·       If your budget allows and your condition is not too severe, regular facials can be a successful treatment to unclog pores and rid of any build-up dirt

·       To cover all bases, ensure you eat a wholesome, well-balanced diet to encourage a healthy gutenvironment.

Author: Courtney Black


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