Mask Related Flare-ups? Here's what to do

During the Covid pandemic, the practice of wearing a mask in the UK has become one of the new expected “norms”.

For many of us, our masks are worn only occasionally, but in several professions (such as retail, hospitality and healthcare) they need to wear one for much of the working day. Especially with prolonged mask wearing, the health of facial skin has been shown to suffer; one study of medical school staff found adverse skin reactions in 54% of over 800 people studied. Contact (allergic) dermatitis was the most frequent reaction but acne is also common; not only can there be a worsening in people with a previous history, but it can arise for the first time under a mask. With this new precedence setting in, there has since been a great deal of media coverage on the subject, with ample advice on the matter - for example Dr Portia Goldsmith on the BBC: Covid: How to alleviate skin problems caused by wearing a face covering.

The recent increase in susceptibility to acne is thought to be threefold:

  • The mask creates a warm and humid “micro-climate” for bugs to multiply

  • Bacteria on the surface of the nose and mouth can readily spread to surrounding skin

  • Friction from the mask can cause chronic skin irritation 

Bearing in mind the factors that can contribute to “maskne”, the following are our strategies that can reduce the risk/severity of acne flare-ups:

    • Cleanse skin with a gentle soap-free cleanser

    • Apply a light, non-comedogenic (non-pore blocking) moisturiser at least 30 minutes before donning mask

    • Take regular breaks from the mask to relieve the pressure and prevent moisture build up

    • Maintain oral hygiene (teeth brushing twice daily and daily interdental flossing/ brushing)

    • Frequent change of disposable mask – every 4 hours if possible

    • Daily washing of non-disposable mask and allow to air dry

    • Take time to fit the mask and ensure it is not overtight

    • Avoid wearing make-up under the mask

    • Replace dry shaving with wet shaving

    • Don’t forget to use your LUSTRE® ClearSkin device on a regular basis if flare-ups occur.

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