Breaking Out Lately? Could Be Caused By Your Face Mask

In this current day, it seems as though quarantine may never really end. Recently, more states and businesses across the country have required people to wear face masks in public in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This has presented a rather new issue to the masses; “Maskne”. This has resulted in individuals with sensitive skin wondering how they can fight skin irritation and acne. 

‘Maskne’ is not a new thing, however. Medical professionals who have worn masks have dealt with this bothersome effect of mask-wearing.

1. What Is “Maskne”


The medical term for “Maskne” is acne mechanica, a skin condition brought on by prolonged wear of a face mask. Masks impose heat, friction and occlusion on the skin and when combined with a moist environment from breathing, talking or sweating, this is a recipe for breakouts. The result of this is that pores can get clogged and produce pimples or acne cysts. On top of that, the prolonged occlusion, heat, and sweat can cause the skin to become dry, itchy and raw.


Acne isn’t the only skin condition reported by mask wearers. Other common face mask skin problems include:


  • Allergic Contact Dermatitis – Some manufactured masks may contain a chemical that causes an allergic reaction. Formaldehyde and bronopol can be found in polypropylene surgical masks.
  • Rosacea – Classically worsened by heat and stress, mask wearing can increase flares.
  • Seborrheic Dermatitis – It causes scaly plaques, inflamed skin and stubborn dandruff.
  • Folliculitis – When yeast or bacteria infect hair follicles.

2. How Can I Prevent These Breakouts

By creating a rather simple face routine for yourself at the end of the day, you can mitigate breakouts:

  1. Wash Your Face – Use a gentle cleanser that is free of fragrance and oil and rinse with lukewarm water. This prevents dirt and oil from being trapped on the skin surface, which causes breakouts. Your face should always be clean before you put on your mask.
  2. Use A Moisturizer – Not only will this keep your skin hydrated, it will also act as a barrier between your face and your mask, reducing friction. Apply onto a cleansed face before and after wearing a mask. Look for moisturizers that contain ceramides, hyaluronic acid, or dimethicone, which will provide extra protection. Take care to avoid fragrances amongst other common contact allergens. This may take trial and error to find the right formulation for your skin type. 
  3. Ditch The Makeup – Wearing makeup under a mask causes clogged pores and breakouts, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Makeup residue will also soil your mask.
  4. Clean Your Mask – If wearing a cotton mask wash it after each use as its surface contains dirt and oil and can become a breeding ground for bacteria from your nose and mouth. 
  5. Choose A Fragrance-Free Detergent – Fragrances can irritate your skin — skip the fabric softener, too.
  6. Stay Away From Harsh Skin Products – Medicated skin care products that contain benzoyl peroxide, retinols and salicylic acid will be more irritating to the skin under a mask — be careful about how much and what you use. 

3. Treating Common Skin Issues


A couple ways to treat common skin issues at home include: 


  • Acne or Breakouts – Add a glycolic acid wash and a light “non-comedogenic” moisturizer to your pre-mask regimen. Move the application of leave-on skin care products to times not wearing a mask at home. If breakouts, redness or swelling still persist, seek medical care with your physician. 
  • Dry Skin – Always apply a good moisturizer to the skin before you put on a mask. After you take it off, cleanse the skin and apply a bland emollient. Commonly, natural or botanical substances can contain allergenic products, so beware. 


We do caution against long-term use of a skin lightening agent (glycolic acid) without the advice of a dermatologist.

Individual results may vary