Maskne, or acne and irritation from wearing a mask, is a thing.
In fact, it is enough of a thing that the Covid-19 task force at the American Academy of Dermatology has taken the time to describe it and make recommendations for dealing with it. The only thing we have to compare it to from the past is people who have worn helmets for long periods, like football players and motorcyclists.
The name for such acne then was acne mechanica, as it was caused by the helmet rubbing the wearer. This is different. The masks don’t rub as much as they hold in moisture and germs that multiply. The most common Maskne, today is what dermatologists call perioral dermatitis, which means around the mouth and nose. But it can also occur on the cheeks.
Maskne is not only a medical condition, it can also be a psychological issue. There is a strong association between having acne and one’s self-esteem. Many people are more or less “scarred” for life from adolescent acne. It can have profound effects on job performance, relationships, the manner in which we socialize and levels of depression or anxiety.
Many of my patients, especially the nurses, doctors, dentists, and frontline workers, are wearing their masks all day long, so they can get quite a build-up. They also tend to be better masked than the rest of us, i.e. their masks are tighter fitting, which unfortunately seems to make Maskne worse. Some of them have to wear more than one mask at a time; like a KN95 (similar to an N95) topped with a surgical mask to keep it clean, plus a face shield for doing procedures. Good grief!
Solutions that work are needed. Based upon my best research here is my advice:
1. Wash your hands before touching your face. Always. Every time. In general, do not touch your face. And for heaven’s sake do not pick the spots.
2. Wash your face in the morning and when you get home with an organic face cleanser such as Juice Beauty or Honey Girl. I also like Annmarie products even though they are not organic, because they have such good ingredients.
3. Use a gentle, lightweight organic face moisturizer or lotion – even men – in the morning and at night to combat dry skin, as that can also cause breakouts. Make sure that your face is completely dry before putting on your mask after you moisturize.
4. Try using a hyaluronic acid serum, not a cream. La Rouche-Posay, a company that prides itself on making effective, yet affordable, products that work well with sensitive skin is my pick. They say that their thermal spring water is a key ingredient. Their products are never oily. Their Hyalu B5 Serum rejuvenates the skin adding protection. It is completely dry after you apply it, which is ideal for something worn under a mask.
5. Speaking of hyaluronic acid, it also comes in a powder that you can throw into your collagen smoothie every day. BulkSupplements.com carries it.
6. Along the same lines as above, supplement with Resveratrol. Amazing for your skin. I like the Reserveage brand best. I get the 500mg.
7. Resist the temptation to wear makeup under your mask. Go all out on your eyes and forehead, but give your face under the mask a break. There is a reason that this is not affecting men the same way it is affecting women and I believe that it may be the makeup issue. Even if you have an organic base, it is still going to clog your irritated pores. Try taking the makeup with you and only applying it when you are going to have the mask off for a while.
8. Keep organic face cleansing wipes in your bag and every chance you get, take the mask off, use the wipe and reapply the Hyaluronic serum before putting your mask back on.
9. Wash your hands before removing your mask. Once you remove the mask, put it in a zip lock bag and when you get home throw it into the washing machine. Do not re-use it. Wash it after each use.
10. You can refresh your mask during the day.
This DeVer spray is antibacterial and fragrant. It gets good reviews.
11. Speaking of masks, buy organic cotton if possible. It is the most breathable and wicks away moisture. There are currently masks for sale on the internet that say they prevent microbes and bacteria. One is by MDacne. I do not have to wear a mask except to grab a few items from Whole Foods once in a while. But I ordered one of these. Not bad in terms of wearability and I feel safer.
12. There are a few things out there that you should not try: sodium lauryl sulfate, and colloidal silver as they may be irritating to the skin.
Healing Nighttime Face Mask
If you already have acne, I have a face mask that you can also use on your face to help get rid of the bumps. I made a version of this for the scar after my knee replacement surgery. It was truly amazing. It uses Manuka Honey in a base of grass-fed Ghee and essential oils. It is sticky when dry, like most face masks. But it really moisturizes the skin and keeps it bacteria free.
Manuka honey has many benefits, but the short list is:
• It is an antibacterial – great for coughs and colds
• It assists wound healing and fights infection
• It eases digestive complaints
• It soothes the effects of allergies
• It supports immunity
Tea tree oil has the following benefits:
• Anti-inflammatory properties
• One of the best essential oils for acne.
Mix together in a jar with a lid:
2 tablespoons Manuka Honey
2 tablespoons grass-fed Ghee
4 drops organic food grade tea tree oil or oregano oil
Run it under hot water, or pop in the microwave for 45 seconds, stir and you are done. Does not need to be refrigerated.
At night after you wash your face but before you moisturize, apply the mask liberally to your face and let it be for as long as possible. Rinse with warm water and apply your nightly moisturizer.
Why Are Essential Oils Becoming Popular Acne Treatments?
Acne is a common skin problem that affects people of all ages. There are plenty of treatments on the market which promise to banish zits, however, some of these can have harsh or drying effects on the skin, so even if your pimples disappear, your skin may feel dry and irritated. Others have allergens which can make a skin condition worse. Essential oils are powerful medicine. The best ones to use on your skin are: Tea Tree Oil, Peppermint Oil, Rosemary Oil, Frankincense Oil, Oregano Oil, Eucalyptus Oil.
All of these are great products to combat MaskNe, They can be used alone or in combination with each other. Everyone’s skin is different and I’ve tested all of these products and found them to work well!
Just to be clear, I will receive a small payment (at no cost to you!) from any of the products purchased from my website which will help me to continue my work and research. I want to hear what you try and what is working for you so leave a comment, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 513-205-6543 today!
Does someone you love suffer from an eating disorder?
Dr. Renae Norton specializes in the treatment of eating disorders. Located in Cincinnati, Ohio. Call 513-205-6543 to schedule an appointment or fill out our online contact form for someone to call you to discuss your concerns. Tele-therapy sessions available. Individual and family sessions also available.
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Materials contained on this site are made available solely for educational purposes and as part of an effort to raise general awareness of the psychological treatments available to individuals with health issues. These materials are not intended to be, and are not a substitute for, direct professional medical or psychological care based on your individual condition and circumstances. Dr. J. Renae Norton does not diagnose or treat medical conditions. While this site may contain descriptions of pharmacological, psychiatric and psychological treatments, such descriptions and any related materials should not be used to diagnose or treat a mental health problem without consulting a qualified mental health care provider. You are advised to consult your medical health provider about your personal questions or concerns.