How your face mask is contributing to “maskne” and how to effectively treat it

Do you find yourself dealing with new or worsening acne? You aren’t alone! As people in Minnesota are now required to wear a face covering indoors, people are finding that it is giving them acne, or ‘maskne’ – acne and irritation caused by wearing a mask. For real? For reals. The American Academy of Dermatology actually recognizes this as a concern. The fancy scientific term is acne mechanica – and it is caused by friction, rubbing, and occlusion (blockage). These factors contribute to skin inflammation and irritation, which leads to clogged pores.  

Wearing a face mask can be warm enough on its own. Combine that with extended use as people return to work settings and warmer temps, and you’ve got the perfect breeding ground for acne. (Remember learning about bacteria and the environments in which they thrive? Moist + Warm = Bacteria Happy Place.) Face masks likely aren’t going away anytime soon, so how should you take care of your skin? I reached out to Ann Larson, owner of AFL Skincare for some tips!

eplife: Are you seeing an increase in acne related problems with your clients?
AFL Skincare: I have seen more acne around the chin area.  

eplife: Is maskne different from regular acne?
AFL Skincare: It is a bit different as it is happening due to someone having to wear a mask for long periods of time and probably would not be there otherwise. The mask causes friction to the skin, in addition to trapping sweat and bacteria onto the skin underneath the mask.

eplife: How can you prevent and treat maskne?
AFL Skincare: The best way to combat is to wear little to no makeup.

Also, applying a thin layer of Vaseline or Aquaphor has really been helpful. That layer is providing a barrier to the skin from the friction and the added sweat, oils and bacteria.

When you are done wearing your mask, wash your face and moisturize. Make sure you are washing and changing your mask frequently. Dirty masks can contribute to the problem.

eplife: What can you do if you do have maskne?
AFL Skincare: As an acne specialist, I offer acne facials and can help you get on the correct home regimen. You can spot treat with a sulfur treatment I sell.

While this is yet another side effect of COVID-19, it is something that with a slight change to your routine, you can effectively manage. Facial blemishes aren’t fun to deal with, but don’t let that fear prevent you from correctly wearing a face mask!

Thank you, Ann, for these great tips! Ann is a resident of Eden Prairie with a passion for making her clients feel more comfortable and confident in their skin. She takes the time to listen, educate, and provide the best skin treatment options to her clients.

Ann Larson, Advanced Practicing Esthetician and Owner can be reached at:
AFL Skincare
Instagram @aflskincare
FB AFL Skincare

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Carolyn Wieland

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