In 2020 the phrase ‘Stay safe’ has taken on a whole new meaning. Regular hand washing, using sanitizer, and wearing face masks have become a part of our everyday routines. With this rise in the need to protect ourselves and others came a phenomenon that was mostly limited to health care workers – Maskne (also spelled mascne). Although it is not a new concept, it is something that is affecting more and more of us as we work on staying safe.
What Is Maskne
Maskne is a short term used for the phrase ‘mask acne’, and it is precisely what the name says – acne caused by wearing a face mask. It is a type of acne called acne mechanica. This type of acne used to only affect healthcare workers and people who wore protective face or headgear with headbands or chinstraps. The heat, pressure, and friction irritate the skin and make it more sensitive and vulnerable to clogged pores.
When clogged pores become inflamed, they can lead to the formation of acne; whiteheads, blackheads, cysts, pustules, and papules. All those fun things that we generally refer to as pimples. More than that, wearing a face mask for long periods can irritate hair follicles, cause contact dermatitis (skin irritation), itchiness, and red skin. All of these conditions fall under the umbrella term of Maskne.
Although it is more likely to occur in people who have a history of acne, it can affect anyone – even people who never had acne before.
What Causes Maskne
A number of factors could lead to the development of Maskne. We wear masks to catch saliva and other droplets that we might expel when we talk, cough, sneeze or breathe. These droplets, along with our sweat, skin oils, and warm breath, creates a breeding ground for bacteria that thrives in humid environments.
Because it catches your saliva and other droplets, your mask traps germs. If you don’t wash your mask regularly, these germs repeatedly come into contact with your face. Seriously think about it – you are essentially walking around with old spit on your face each time you put on a dirty mask.
Besides this, the material that your mask is made of, the detergent you use, and how often you wear your mask could all lead to the development of Maskne.
How Can You Prevent Maskne?
One option is to use disposable masks and change them frequently. But, you know – the environment.
With cloth masks, the first and perhaps the most obvious way to prevent Maskne is to wash your mask often. And by often, we mean daily or after every use if you wear your mask for long periods at a time.
We realize that this is not always practical and that you might even want to freshen up your mask throughout the day. That is why we have created our Face Mask Sanitizer and Deodorizer – to freshen up your mask in-between washes. It is perfect for carrying around with you and can be used to keep your mask germ-free and smelling great throughout the day.
Mask sanitizer is almost just like hand sanitizer – but for your mask. It gives you that added protection when you are unable, or it isn’t practical to wash your mask. Since your mask tends to catch a bunch of bacteria, bodily fluids, and oils, the general recommendation is to replace it throughout the day.
But let’s be honest, who carries a freshly washed and sanitized mask sealed in a plastic bag (to keep it sanitized) around with us – never mind more than one! That is where a mask sanitizer comes in. A good mask sanitizer with a high percentage of alcohol mixed with essential oils that hold anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties gives your mask added protection in-between washes. Where might you find this kind of magic, we hear you ask? Head on over here to see our range of mask sanitizers. We have even added some special essential oils to boost the anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties that the 80% alcohol content provides. More than that, each blend is uniquely chosen to boost these properties, help you breathe easy, or give you a calming effect – because heaven knows we all need a bit of calm in this COVID crazy.
Avoid putting make-up on the areas that are typically covered by your mask, and if you need to, don’t over-do it. Make-up can trap all the bacteria, sweat, oil, and dirt that accumulates inside your mask. That means all of this ickiness sits on your face even when you are not wearing your mask.
Keep your face clean by washing it before putting your mask on and after taking it off. But, be careful not to over-exfoliate and dry out your skin. Dry skin could lead to even more breakouts as your skin produces more pore-clogging oil to compensate. Apply a good moisturizer (have you tried our Hemp lotions?) to create a skin barrier that can help protect against chafing and rashes while keeping your skin moisturized.
Give your face time to breathe by taking your mask off as often as possible while still being safe. It is recommended that you remove your mask at least every two to four hours to allow your skin time to breathe.
When choosing a mask, you need to balance comfort and breathability with the amount of protection it gives. While being good for your face, extremely breathable fabric doesn’t offer the same protection as fabrics that are more tightly woven and added in layers. Two layers of washable and breathable fabric is a good choice. Choose a mask that fist well and creates a seal around your mouth and nose, without being too tight. A mask that is too loose does little for protection, while a mask that is too tight could cause more Maskne breakouts.
When fiddling with your mask, putting it on, or taking it off, make sure that your hands are super clean. Wash your hands with soap and water, or use sanitizer if you are in a pinch (have you tried our CBD-infused hand sanitizer yet?). Handle your mask as little as possible, and try not to touch the parts that were in contact with your face. Instead, hold it by the ear loops or fasteners. Remember to wash your hands after touching your mask – and definitely before you touch your face, especially your nose, mouth, or eyes.
How to treat Maskne.
If you haven’t yet, start a regular skincare routine. Use products that are hydrating and gentle on your face since you are likely to be washing your face more often. Regularly cleaning your face washes away oil, dirt, and any bacteria that might have collected on your face (and inside your mask). It also removes dead skin cells so that new ones can form. Remember to moisturize after washing your face to prevent water loss in your skin. Avoid touching, picking, or squeezing as this can increase the spread of the breakout.
Wearing a face mask, along with washing your hands frequently and thoroughly, is a way to keep yourself and those around you safe. Practice good mask hygiene and take good care of your face to avoid getting Maskne in this interesting new space we find ourselves.