Whether you double up your mask cover every time you step out or opt for just one protective layer, donning a face mask has become part of our daily routines.
Unfortunately, though they help protect against COVID-19 and are mandated in many parts of the world, wearing a face mask for hours on end can be a nightmare for our skin, causing the dreaded “maskne”.
Maskne isn’t a new problem, of course. It’s actually called acne mechanica. Before the pandemic, it was mostly seen in rugby players, wrestlers and other athletes who regularly wear chin straps and helmets.
Over the past two years, though, millions of regular folks have found that prolonged mask-wearing results in redness, pimples and in rare cases, a rash around the mouth and nose — something dermatologists term periorificial dermatitis.
The good news, though, is that maskne is not just treatable, but if you’re diligent, also entirely preventable. Here’s how:
Choose the right mask
It’s not really about the price, but the kind of mask you choose. An N95 respirator, for example, may provide better protection, but unless you’re a medical frontliner or someone who’s regularly in contact with lots of folks, you may want to consider a mask that allows the skin to breathe better.
Disposable three-ply masks are good for short-term wear. If you’re going the fabric route, consider 100% cotton masks.
Another thing to consider is the fit — pick masks that fit snugly but aren’t too tight. That increases sweat buildup, which, as we all know, can spell acne.
Wash or dispose of masks after use
It should really be common sense at this point in the pandemic but the advice bears repeating — dump disposable masks after each use and do not reuse them!
Also, never reuse a fabric mask without making sure to wash it first. Best part, you can add masks to your laundry load and clean them in the washing machine.
But if you want to wash them by hand, dermatologists recommend washing in hot water and using a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic detergent. Make sure to dry them well after you’re done washing!
Take a mask break
It’s actually ok to take a break from mask-wearing for a while. In fact, it’s encouraged.
So if you are in an environment that allows for social distancing, remove your mask from time to time and let your skin breathe.
The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends a 15-minute break every four hours. Make sure to follow recommended mask removal guidelines and only do so when it’s safe.
Get your skincare regime right
Often, the key to great skin is simply to take care of it! Thankfully, we live in an age of wonders, and science has given us numerous ways to give our skin the TLC it deserves. Take the Physio Radiance skincare line, for example. All the products in its range have pre-probiotics that help strengthen our skin’s defence mechanism.
But let’s go back to the dreaded maskne. Trapped oil, sweat and bacteria in pores is a major cause for breakouts. So wash your face at least twice a day with a gentle cleanser like the Physio Radiance Gentle Foaming Cleanser that’s ultra light on the face, yet deeply cleans and hydrates the skin.
Also, moisturise before putting your mask on. This can provide a barrier between your skin and the mask and thereby reduce the friction that triggers maskne.
Physio Radiance Restoring Day Cream, for example, is designed to fight ageing and make the skin more elastic while moisturising.
Hold the makeup
We’re not saying forever. But makeup can cause more harm than good when you’re trying to fight a skin issue, so give it a break for a while.
Instead, opt for a hydrating lotion. Physio Radiance Boosting Essence, with antioxidants, is one effective solution. Simply apply a few drops in the morning and evening to your face after washing for a radiant and maskne free glow!