Maskne: How to Make it Go Away

If you’re experiencing acne-type bumps around your mouth, chin, and nose area where you’ve never had a problem before, you’re not alone. In fact, there’s a name for it: Maskne. This Covid complexion casualty comes from wearing a face covering for extended periods of time, and while masking up may be necessary while the virus rages, it’s hard to mask our frustration with the cosmetic consequences.

Maskne is actually not a new term at all, but one long used by healthcare practitioners for whom extended mask wearing is the norm, as well as athletes accustomed to wearing chin straps, helmets, and even thigh and shin guards. The term is now getting its 15 minutes as the general population is increasingly battling teen-style acne in the face-mask area.

Acne mechanica, the more technical name for maskne, comes from having a physical obstruction on the skin behind which warm, moist air trapped for long periods of time provides a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Add to that the friction created from facial expressions and talking behind the mask and you’re basically driving sebum and bacteria directly into your pores. The skin around the mouth is sensitive to begin with and an area where people may already see breakouts even without masks, so it’s no wonder that face coverings plus warm, summer weather equals more breakouts.

Like regular acne, maskne can range in severity from a red, rashy appearance to more inflamed looking bumps with pustules on top that might tempt you to cover your face even when it’s not necessary. But relief is possible. These how to’s can help clear things up.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat. A good cleansing routine has never been more important. Start and end each day with a gentle face wash using a non-irritating cleanser to unclog pores and stop bacteria from proliferating. Moisturizing cleansing wipes in the purse or gym bag are also a good idea for midday decontamination of the mask area. If your skin needs extra attention right now, your face may find a friend in products with a little benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, or salicylic acid.

Keep it Light. Covid-19 has required modifications to many of our daily routines, and your skincare regimen may be no exception. A lightweight, noncomedogenic moisturizer with sunscreen is still recommended, but try to steer clear of heavier creams during the day - they’ll only create more moisture behind the mask — and skip or limit makeup around the mouth area if possible. Focus instead on highlighting your eyes. It’s all anyone sees anyway!

Wear Clean Masks. It’s tempting to rewear the same masks for days if you’re not actually sick, but those face coverings can pick up lots of nasty germs from your mouth, as well as the purse or car console in which they’re stashed when not in use. Avoid transferring that bacteria onto your facial area by washing cloth masks or disposing of paper ones frequently, and keep extras handy for when you accidentally drop yours on the floor.

Take it Off. As important as face coverings may be to slow the spread of the Coronavirus, let your face breathe whenever you’re alone or within a safe social distance from others. If necessary, keep a sticky note on your steering wheel to remind you to take your mask off when alone in your car!

See Your Aesthetician. Facials and other professional skin care treatments are not only a proven stress reliever during high anxiety times, they’re great for deep cleaning of pores, extractions, and exfoliation that generates new cell turnover, and the removal of dead skin allows your products to be more easily absorbed. Your aesthetician can recommend skincare solutions with healing nutrients for your maskne, treatment of fine lines, or whatever your skin care issue might be.