Can wearing a facemask cause acne?

Wearing a facemask has become a key part in controlling the spread of the Coronavirus.

“The best available scientific evidence is that when used correctly, wearing a face-covering may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others.” (Gov.uk)

It is now the law in England to wear facemasks on public transport and in shops and supermarkets. But could wearing a facemask be affecting your skin? And what can you do to protect your skin?


Acne caused by facemasks - 'Maskne'

A specific type of acne can be caused by friction, heat or pressure on the skin. The clinical term for this type of acne is acne mechanica, and it is most likely to occur when the skin is not exposed to air. 

It is sometimes called ‘sports-induced acne’ because it occurs frequently in athletes(WebMD). Another common area for acne mechanica is on the side of your face where you hold your mobile phone or from wearing sunglasses.

This is why wearing a facemask could lead to acne breakouts. Our mouth, nose and chin become more susceptible when dirt, oil and sweat are being trapped by a facemask which causes friction on the skin and reduces air exposure.  

Tips to prevent and treat acne mechanica

As discussed, wearing facemasks is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, so here’s some tips to help you stay safe and protect your skin too:

  • Wash your face more frequently than usual - especially before and after using your facemask, and when waking up and going to bed. A gentle but deep cleanser is recommended (such as Kokoa's African Black Soap).
  • Wash your fabric facemasks or coverings frequently. Ideally after every use.
  • Switch to a vegan silk/satin face mask that does not create as much friction.
  • Wash or change your pillowcase frequently.
  • Apply skin moisturisers to rehydrate and bring moisture back to your skin. Moisturisers with Squalane or jojoba oil are recommended.
  • Use no/less makeup underneath the face mask in order to avoid trapping bacteria under your pores.

References:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own

https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/ss/slideshow-acne-dictionary

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