What to know about masks
Many places may require people to wear face masks in public, including restaurants, bars, and grocery stores. Although face masks help keep individuals safe from the novel coronavirus, they can cause a condition known as maskne.
The humid and occlusive environment inside the mask, in combination with friction, can trap moisture from breathing, talking, or sweating. These factors may also lead to the skin becoming irritated. This can then result in several skin conditionsTrusted Source that people may refer to as maskne.
This article explores maskne and its potential causes. It also suggests how individuals may treat and prevent possible skin irritation.
The term “maskne” was originally a reference to the development of acne after wearing a face covering or mask. Previously, people may have used the term “acne mechanica” to describe acne due to friction and pressure on the skin, such as from wearing a mask.
However, the term “maskne” now encompasses several skin conditions that wearing a face mask can cause, including:
Acne: If the pores become clogged with dirt, dead skin cells, and oil, acne can develop. It is a painful skin condition that can cause blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, and cysts. Individuals of all ages may develop acne.
Rosacea: This widespread skin condition affects more than 14 million people in the United States. It results in redness, swelling, and acne-like breakouts.
Folliculitis: Folliculitis refers to an infection of the hair follicles. It causes bumps that may resemble acne, which can also be itchy and painful.
Atopic dermatitis: This is the most common type of eczema. People will typically experience patches of dry, itchy skin that may crack, bleed, or become infected.
Contact dermatitis: If an individual is sensitive to the mask’s material, they may develop contact dermatitis. This is another type of eczema and may cause irritation and blistering.
Seborrheic dermatitis: This is an inflammatory skin condition that can cause red, flaky, itchy skin.
Perioral dermatitis: Sometimes known as periorificial dermatitis, this is a skin condition that causes a rash around the mouth.
In addition to irritating the skin and potentially causing skin conditions, people who are already living with skin conditions may find that wearing a mask worsens symptoms.
Various causes can lead to an individual developing maskne. Acne or facial rashes can occur due to a mask trapping sweat and humid moisture, in addition to friction from the mask repeatedly rubbing against the skin.
The occlusive environment can trap moisture and sebum, which can aggravate existing acne or cause new breakouts by clogging pores. Heat and sweat may also cause the skin to become dry, itchy, and raw.
Friction may also lead to chafing, redness, flaking, and peeling skin. In some cases, it can also cause sores.
Additionally, if an individual is allergic to the material in certain masks, this can also cause skin irritation or an allergic outbreak. Using a scented detergent to wash the mask may also trigger skin issues.
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