What Is Maskne? How to Prevent Mask-Related Acne

Wearing face coverings in public is believed to be a highly effective way of slowing the spread of COVID-19 as countries begin to ease restrictions on lockdowns. Masks lessen the number of airborne respiratory droplets containing the virus that are spread by breathing or coughing. However, the recent facemask requirements have lead to more people in the West Hollywood area seeking a dermatologist for skin irritation and flare-ups of pre-existing conditions. This phenomenon has become known as “maskne”—also referred to by the medical term acne mechanica—and is a common side effect among athletes who frequently wear helmets and other equipment.

As the weather heats up and summer months approach, weather conditions are harsher on the skin. The excessive heat and humidity mean increased oil production, and sweating under a mask for an extended time only makes things worse. Humid air is trapped in the mask, while the fabric causes friction and pressure on the skin, which creates ideal conditions for irritation and for blocked pores to trigger acne breakouts around the space where the mask is covering. Maskne is more likely to cause tiny whiteheads as opposed to deep cysts.

While uncomfortable, it’s important that we continue wearing masks to protect our health. That said, there are some things you can do to counteract the constant skin irritation:

Choose Lightweight Materials

Consider the type of fabric your mask is made from. It might be better to use a cloth mask instead of a surgical one. Soft, breathable materials like cotton will feel better on your skin and keep it cool.

Don’t Bother with Makeup

Makeup around the mouth and nose area will only worsen the buildup of irritants, so it’s better to use as none (or as little as possible).

Wash Your Mask Frequently

Bacteria can readily accumulate on masks, so it’s important to wash them each day to get rid of any dirt, debris, and other unwanted material. Using water and detergent can also help to kill many viruses on cloth masks.

For more tips on avoiding breakouts from wearing a facemask, talk to the team of board-certified dermatologists at Skin Care and Laser Physicians of Beverly Hills, serving the West Hollywood area and beyond. Call us today at 310.246.0495 or submit a contact form online.

Written by Dr. Derek Jones

Dr. Derek Jones is a renowned Los Angeles and Beverly Hills area dermatologist practicing in cosmetic and general dermatology.