Mask-ne (Mask Acne) Is Real, And Here’s What You Can Do About It

Mask-ne (Mask Acne) Is Real, And Here’s What You Can Do About It

Mask Acne – Acne from Wearing a Mask

With more and more people wearing masks regularly, the resulting acne and skin irritation – “mask-ne” – is starting to come up as a frequent complaint at the dermatologist’s office. Mask-ne is actually better described as a category of another well-known condition called acne mechanica. Acne mechanica is a form of skin irritation that is caused by excess pressure, heat, and rubbing against the skin.

Fortunately, there are some easy things that you can do to avoid or treat mask-ne.

  • For starters, you need to wash or change your masks frequently. A lot of mask-ne is caused by reusing the same mask for several days. The masks are collecting oil, sweat, and dirt from the constant contact with your face.
  • Regularly use a gentle non-soap cleanser and a plain, unscented facial moisturizer. Strong soap cleansers can dry the skin, worsening any underlying skin irritation caused by the mask.
  • Applying daily moisturizer can help prevent and treat skin irritation and also provides some barrier protection between your skin and your mask.
  • Face masks increase the potency of any skin care products you apply to your face by a mechanism of action known as occlusion. If you use medicated skin products on your face, such as those containing salicylic, glycolic, alpha or hydroxy acids, or retinoids, they can substantially magnify the irritative mask effect. The fewer skin products you use under your mask during the day, the better.
  • Unfortunately, makeup can also worsen mask-ne. Consider avoiding the use of makeup underneath your mask or removing it prior to putting on a mask.
  • Avoid prolonged exposure to heat and remove your mask when it is not needed to help reduce the risk of developing mask-ne. Heat causes the pores in your skin to open up, making it easier for bacteria and dirt from your mask to collect inside your pores and eventually clog them.

Like other forms of acne, there are good treatments for mask-ne. A nightly over-the-counter salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide wash can help. Sometimes, prescription creams or oral antibiotics will be necessary to help manage breakouts.

Not all facial eruptions caused by masks are acne. Allergic contact dermatitis and infections are also quite common. You should speak with your dermatologist if you are experiencing an unexplained skin rash or one that does not respond to over-the-counter treatments.

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Brandon Kirsch

Brandon Kirsch, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist specializing in clinical drug development and medical innovation. He is the founder of Kirsch Dermatology in Naples, Florida and is also the Chief of Dermatology at the Naples Community Hospital. Kirsch Dermatology Website Dr. Kirsch started his career as a lawyer and holds law degrees from the University of Western Ontario (LL.B.) and Georgetown (LL.M. Securities and Financial Regulation). Dr. Kirsch completed his pre-medical studies at the University of Pennsylvania, medical school at Brown University, internship at the Mayo Clinic (Florida) and dermatology residency at the University of North Carolina. In partnership with the Mayo Clinic, he filed to patent a novel topical composition for the treatment of skin hyperpigmentation that he co-developed and also oversaw a successful pilot study of the formulation. Dr. Kirsch has experience with therapeutic drug development programs from pre-clinical to Phase 3 studies. He is licensed to practice medicine in California, Colorado, Florida, and North Carolina and law in New York and Ontario.

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