Maskne Causes, Symptoms and treatments

Wearing a face mask or facial covering is becoming increasingly more common, but the close contact to skin, combined with a warm moist environment between the surfaces creates an opportunity for the skin to become irritated, blotchy and sore, leading to a condition colloquially called Maskne.

In this article, we look at what causes Maskne, and what you can do to reduce its effects, and treat it.

What is Maskne

Maskne is the term given to an outbreak of acne vulgaris or irritation on the face, generally focused around the mouth and nose area, as a result of wearing a face mask for an extended period of time.

Wearing a face mask or face covering for short periods of time likely won’t cause too much irritation, but longer-term use, either due to environmental or health care factors can lead to this condition becoming more prominent, particularly in those with blemish-prone skin.

What causes Maskne to occur?

Whilst triggers like stress or having blemish-prone skin can lead to flare-ups of acne, the difference with Maskne is that its cause is linked to the use of various types of face mask or face protection (including visors). 

The need for this type of equipment to be tight-fitting means there are multiple contact points between skin and mask, that see a build-up of warmth, sweat and friction. 

Our faces are covered in tiny follicles that become blocked at various points around the nose, mouth and forehead, all of which create a petri-dish for bacteria to grow and a flare-up to occur, even in people with no history of blemishes or acne.

Grades of acne severity image.

How to treat Maskne

The most obvious answer would be to not wear a mask or protective equipment, but in many instances, this isn’t possible or advised, so alternative treatments must be sought to help reduce the opportunity for irritation and flare-ups to occur.

Change your face mask regularly if using disposable PPE - A build-up of sweat beneath the lining of a mask can lead to moisture and irritation through rubbing. Where possible, replacing a mask allows your skin a chance to breathe and reduces the chance of aggravation.

Choose a fabric mask that fits and wash it regularly - Ill-fitting masks that are either too tight or too loose can both lead to excess friction and aggravation of the skin surface. Once the skin is broken it comes more susceptible to bacteria, so ensuring that your mask fits well, is a good first step in reducing the chance of developing Maskne.

Also remember to wash your mask regularly, which will help to keep your mask dirt-free and bacteria at bay.

Avoid make-up - Wearing make-up provides more opportunity for pores to become blocked, so where possible, avoid wearing any or very minimal make-up on areas of the face that will be covered by, or come into contact with a face mask.

For irritated, dry, or red skin

If the skin isn’t yet broken, then there are a range of products you can use to help reduce the irritation and dryness and reduce the chance of the skin becoming cracked or broken.

The Eucerin UltraSensitive Cleansing fluid is suitable for use where the skin barrier has been weakened and irritation has occurred. Using a cleanser that’s gentle will help to ensure the skin barrier isn’t further damaged, whilst helping to remove impurities and bacteria from the surface of the skin. 

Eucerin UltraSensitive Cleansing Lotion contains SymSitive*, an innovative active ingredient specially developed for hypersensitive skin. It acts as a sensitivity regulator at the source of the hyper-reactivity, minimising sensory fibre activation and, in turn, soothing hypersensitivity instantly.

Once the skin has been cleansed, you should ensure that a suitable moisturiser is being used to help lock in moisture, avoid further dryness and help repair the skin's natural barrier.

Both the Eucerin UltraSensitive Soothing Care (Dry Skin) and the Eucerin UltraSensitive Soothing Care (Normal to Combination Skin) moisturisers have also been developed for hypersensitive skin, and work to repair the skin barrier, locking in more moisture and reducing the chance of skin barrier breakdown.

A packshot of the cleansing fluid

For cracked or broken skin

If the skin is already cracked or broken it’s important to use a product on the skin that will avoid further irritation and instead helps to soothe, repair and provide further protection. 

The Eucerin Aquaphor Soothing Skin Balm is a water-free ointment that forms a gentle, semi-occlusive, protective barrier over skin that supports the natural transfer of water vapour and oxygen to and from the skin allowing the skin to ‘breathe’ and strengthen its natural protective barrier.

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