A face mask is supposed to cover your nose and mouth completely, which means it closely hugs the areas. So it can lead to acne because of the friction
Face masks are now an integral part of our lives. And yet, as we get ourselves accustomed to wearing it every time we step out, there are some who might be facing skin problems because of the COVID-19 protective gear. These skin problems are being dubbed “mask acne” or “maskne” on social media.
What is “maskne”?
It refers to the skin eruptions that may occur because of wearing face masks. And there are some possible reasons for that.
Dr DM Mahajan, Senior Consultant, Dermatology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, Delhi, explained “A face mask is supposed to cover your nose and mouth completely, which means it closely hugs the areas. So it can lead to acne because of some friction.”
Secondly, the strings attached to a mask exert a fair amount of pressure to a normal breathing skin, leading to acne. Again, people also wash the mask. So there could some detergent residue within the layers, which, if worn for three-four hours can cause an irritant reaction, the doctor said.
People who have a tendency to get acne, atopic dermatitis or eczema in which the skin becomes red and itchy, chances are that the face masks may not be compatible with the body, leading to acne eruptions. “Most people are not used to wearing masks for long hours in the summer heat and humidity; they are likely to sweat underneath the mask and push it up and down, jeopardizing the basic aim of wearing it,” Dr Mahajan added.
How to prevent ‘maskne’?
Dr Mahajan advised the following:
1. Most importantly, you should choose a mask with the right fabric — non-woven and nicely ventilated, which is crucial given the Indian climate, especially as the humidity nowadays is high.
2. The mask should not be worn for more than a few hours at a time. One can wear a face shield on top of the mask so that you do not end up adjusting the mask every time.
3. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. So instead of washing the mask with detergent, you can expose it to sunlight for at least four hours. You can have a set of face masks and keep them in sunlight. Say you have five of them. Wear one each day and then keep it in the sun. On the sixth day, you can wear the first mask without any fear of infection.
How to treat ‘maskne’?
The best remedy is applying clearescent. Else, one can make a solution with sandalwood (chandan) powder and apply it over the affected areas.