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How to Deal With Maskne

I work in a healthcare setting. On a given day, I’m wearing a mask for 8 to 9 hours nonstop. Initially, I didn’t think much about it because I wanted to keep myself and others protected against COVID-19. However, I began to notice bumps on my skin which would convenient pop up right after the end up a long shift. On days I didn’t work, I didn’t get any new bumps.

I could only conclude that I’ve developed the dreaded Maskne – skin breakouts due to wearing a protective face mask. While everyone can get maskne, healthcare workers are especially susceptible due to the length of time they have to mask on a given day. In fact, according to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 83% of healthcare workers in Hubei, China experience facial skin problems.

Here are some tips I followed to get my maskne under control:

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#1: Don’t Make Drastic Changes to Your Skincare Routine

When you start seeing those pesky pimples pop up, it’s tempting to want to slather products on your face in an attempt to get it under control. Such drastic reactions can actually exacerbate acne, and you won’t be able to tell whether the new pimples are being caused by acne or new products. If you have a set skincare routine that has been working, stay the course. Since this pandemic started, the only major change I’ve made is spot treating with acne patches.

If you’re really itching to try out new products, a number of companies have released lines tailored specifically for maskne. I have had a chance to try any of them, so I can’t vouch for effectiveness. If you choose to try any of them out, I would highly recommend only using one at a time!

#2: Skip Wearing Makeup If You Can

Masks have direct contact with your skin, and that friction can push dirt, dead skin cells, and bacteria into your pores. Add the warm and humid environment under the mask and you have a formula for maskne.

Now imagine adding makeup into the mix. It just doesn’t sound like a good idea. Since the pandemic started, I’ve stopped wearing all face and lip makeup (with the exception of a lip mask at night). The mask covers it up, and in the end all that makeup either ends up on my mask or in my pores.

If you do choose to wear makeup, make sure to thoroughly cleanse your face at the end of the day using double cleansing or a facial brush.

#3: Clean Everything That Comes In Contact With Your Face

I’m on the phone at lot at work, be it a cellphone or desk phone. One of the first things I do when I enter the office in the morning is to disinfect everything. I also disinfect my phone when I get home from work. Not only can these devices carry illnesses like COVID-19, they carry a bunch of germs which can cause breakouts.

Now would also be a good time to practice not touching your face! I know it’s difficult, but not only does it prevent COVID-19 but breakouts as well!

#4: Change Or Clean Your Mask Daily

We all know that the outside of the mask is covered with whatever is in the environment, including COVID-19. However, the inside of the mask is covered with dead skin, oil, makeup residue, food particles, and bacteria, all of which can trigger maskne. If you’re able, wash or replace your mask daily to protect your face and your health.

#5: Practice Self-Care for Your Skin

Don’t forget to take care of the rest of your body during this stressful time. If possible, avoid excess stress and some time out to relax, even if it’s just sheet masking while watching your favorite TV show. Try to get enough sleep, and don’t forget to drink plenty of water (it’s good for your skin)!

While I still get the occasional spot, it goes away fairly quickly. Spots on my face are a small concession to keep everyone around me safe.

If you are a healthcare worker, thank you for your sacrifice and for keeping all of us healthy. Yes, maskne is annoying, but it is definitely manageable. Please stay safe, and don’t forget to wear a mask!

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