With recent recommendations to wear face masks and other coverings in public, many people are starting to notice some problems with their skin under the mask. First, gentle cloth masks or coverings are best for most people to wear in public. Remember to leave surgical masks and N95 masks for the healthcare workers and first responders.
Masks covering the skin can contribute to several common skin problems.
Acne- and Rosacea-like Pimple Reactions
One of these is pimples, black heads, and white heads. Sometimes, large, deeper and painful cysts can even develop, particularly if you are prone to these. However, even people without a significant history of acne or rosacea can develop acne-type reactions to a mask covering the skin and blocking pores.
Another common condition that can develop is dry, irritated, and chapped skin around the mouth and on the lips and nose. The moisture held in by the mask can lead to breakdown of the skin barrier and cause irritation and dermatitis.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis
Allergic contact dermatitis can appear when you have an allergy to any component of the mask or covering such as elastic, fabrics, dyes, detergents, fragrances, chemicals, and so on.
Bacteria and fungal skin infections can appear, particularly if your mask is not regularly cleaned.
These are just a few of the more common problems that can develop by having part of your skin, particularly on your face, covered for a prolonged period of time.
So, it sounds like these masks and coverings may not be worth the trouble, right? Not at all! They are a very important part of protecting yourself and others by preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus and many other respiratory infections.
We just have to be smart about what type of mask we are using, how we’re wearing it, how we’re taking care of it, and, most importantly, how we are taking care of our skin.
- Be sure to choose a fabric that is washable, gentle/soft, and, if you have sensitivities, is free of dyes and fragrances
- Only wear the mask when you need it. For example, most people probably do not need to be wearing it while driving.
- Wash the mask periodically in mild detergent
- Be sure to wash your face twice daily with a gentle cleanser
- Use a facial moisturizer to maintain your skin barrier and combat dryness
- Avoid squeezing or picking at pimples and other lesions
- An over-the-counter acne wash or pad may help combat pimples, but keeping the mask and skin clean can really help.
Contact us for a customized evaluation and treatment plan for acne and dermatitis that do not improve with these recommendations. Dr. Wilkerson is available for same-day appointments including virtual visits you can do from the comfort and safety of your home. Contact us today!