Oh Gee, It’s “Mascne”
Ah yes, COVID - a hallmark of 2020, and it’s variants are the hallmark of 2021. So what is this annoying condition that started popping up (no pun intended) during the pandemic?
Well, “Mascne,” “Maskne” or “mask acne” is a term that was coined during the pandemic. Just like Dr. Ngai mentioned in his acne post, there are many contributing factors that go into “Mascne,” but the main contributing factor is something we all share in common - wearing a mask (especially now with the mask mandate being implemented again). Or, at least we hope you’re still wearing one if you are able to. We recognize that there are individuals that are not able to wear one due to various health conditions, but the majority of the general public should wear one despite this unfortunate side effect.
Masks have been advised during the pandemic due to their ability to prevent droplets (from sneezing, talking, coughing, etc.) from spreading and transmitting the COVID-19 virus (amongst many others)1. This is great, in terms of helping the public stay safe during the pandemic, but it also means that heat, moisture, and bacteria can become trapped inside the mask. It can also cause irritation such as itchiness and discomfort from the friction and occlusion of the skin. How could you help to prevent some of this, you might ask?
1. Let your skin breathe whenever possible
Now, let it be said that we definitely advise wearing a mask while in public ESPECIALLY if you are able to wear one and cannot socially distance. HOWEVER, if you are at home or car, or when it is safe to do so, it is a good idea to first SANITIZE YOUR HANDS and then remove your mask. It is also advisable to change your mask whenever it starts to feel increasingly stuffy or wet, soiled, or damaged. Just remember to remove the elastic from the mask before discarding them to protect the wildlife (the elastics have been reported to tangle around seagulls' legs)2.
2. Wash your reusable masks
A lot of lovely cloth masks have appeared on the market since the pandemic hit, and while they're a more eco-friendly option, they need to be washed just like any other article of clothing to remove bacteria and germs. If you have sensitive skin, you could use a fragrance free laundry detergent, or another cleaner that is hypoallergenic.
3. Hold up on the makeup
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, skipping your makeup routine can help discourage breakouts because your pores will be less likely to become clogged3. Those with oily skin can also do a quick, gentle wipe down with something moisturizing4 or even a quick gentle cleanse if you’re feeling particularly sweaty. Either way, less is more, but if you are adamant about makeup, try to stick to products that are non-comedogenic, or focus on eye makeup.
4. Stick to gentle cleansers and moisturizers
It is imperative to keep your skin nice and clean and moisturized - drying out your skin too much can sometimes cause more damage than good in that it could damage your skin barrier. Choose one that is fitting for your skin type. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a gel moisturizer for those with oily skin, a lotion for those with normal or combination skin, and a cream for those with dry to very dry skin5. Some of our favorite cleansers include CeraVe’s Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser as well as Cosmedical’s soothing Chamomile Facial Cleanser.
And lastly, if all else fails, you can consider heading to your nearest primary care provider to have your skin assessed. Some patients may benefit from prescription medication or topicals. Our clinic also provides a variety of acne targeted treatment plans as well, such as laser extractions, photodynamic therapy, and mesotox injections, to name a few. Whichever route you choose, remember that prevention and maintenance is just as important as treatment in the long run!