How to treat the new mask-generated acne (maskne)

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Yes, maskne is definitely a thing. And it’s not just affecting teens!

Covid-19 brought masks into our lives – and we’re likely going to be wearing them for a while. While masks are necessary to keep us safe, our skin may need time to adjust to the new normal. 

“Maskne” is just a term for acne that results from wearing a mask.

It’s caused by a combination of friction (also called acne mechanica), retention of oils, dead skin and other acne exacerbating factors such as heat and sweat.

In addition to maskne, many of us are experiencing emotional and physical stress, which can lead to shifts in hormones – another cause for breakouts, even in those who haven’t experienced acne in years. 

There is no doubt that our skin needs some extra love right now!

Our consulting dermatologists confirm that acne cases are definitely on the rise, but there’s no need to worry! It’s a totally workable situation that just involves setting the right routine and giving your skin time to adjust.

Left on its own, acne –and maskne, too– can lead to long term sequelae, such as scarring and discoloration, so early treatment and prevention are key.

Here are some maskne tips you can get started on right now: 

  1. Keep it clean (and if you can – keep it cotton)
    Keeping your mask clean can help minimize your exposure to sweat, oils and other product buildup. Depending on your PPE needs, this may involve changing your mask frequently or choosing more porous and washable materials, such as cotton.
  1. Easy on the makeup
    We know you may be tempted to dab on that extra layer of cover up to hide your new blemishes, but product buildup may worsen your condition – especially under a mask. If you have to put on makeup, try to stick to oil-free or mineral-based formulations and avoid areas under the mask (your mask will cover these anyway).  Gently remove your makeup as soon as possible.
  2. Minimize and simplify treatment
    Masks create irritation due to rubbing, but can also increase exposure and delivery of products into the skin by physically holding them in. Keeping your routine gentle and simple will help to minimize these effects:
    • Cleansing: Limit washing to no more than once or twice a day and stick to gentle cleansers free of fragrances and dyes. Avoid exfoliating brushes, sponges or washcloths and use just your fingertips to apply cleanser. Pat dry with a clean towel. 
    • Moisturizing:  Apply a gentle moisturizer to enhance the skin barrier and protect and restore moisture to the skin. During the day, consider a moisturizer with a sunscreen of SPF 30 or more and look for products that say “non-comedogenic” – this means they won’t cause acne. Avoid heavier products, like petroleum jelly, since they may be hot and uncomfortable and lead to sweating and breakdown of PPE. 
  1. Avoid irritants: While retinols, retinoids and other exfoliating products may have worked well for you in the past, you may find that they suddenly cause irritation. Consider putting these products on hold while your skin adjusts, but do check with your dermatologist before making these changes.
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Check out Face Washing 101 from the American Academy of Dermatology
  1. Start a new regimen that works
    When all this just isn’t enough to keep away the blemishes, you may need some extra acne fighting ingredients to help you through these tough times. A routine should include simple yet proven acne treatment products that fit your particular skin type and are applied in the right amount at the right time. The right products used with the right frequency over time will strengthen your epidermal layers’ resistance to adverse conditions (like mask irritation, product build up and sweat). 

Maskne doesn’t have to be a bad thing – and now may be the perfect opportunity to take charge of your skin health.

We really understand the struggle of managing acne whether it’s due to stress, maskne or just a fact of life. Our personalized acne treatment system gives you the help and care you need to deal with whatever life throws at you. Our combination of dermatologist selected products and app-based routine management system make sure you are always on the right track.Skincoach helps both teens and adults take control of their skin care in a way that’s clear, easy and effective.

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