Features September 2020

Maskne: How to Stop Face Mask Breakouts

Have you noticed more breakouts lately? If so, you are not alone. Between the stress of adapting to life during a global pandemic to the challenges of juggling remote schooling and new health and financial pressures, a lot has changed in the last few months. In an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, Arizonans have selflessly made face mask wearing a part of their normal routine. Unfortunately, with the consistent use of face masks, you may have noticed your skin reacting negatively.

“Maskne” – or acne mechanica as dermatologists call it – is pimples located in areas where your mask touches your face. Maskne occurs when sweat, oil and bacteria are trapped on your skin while wearing a mask, creating the perfect breeding ground for breakouts. Unlike blemishes caused by hormones or hereditary issues like cystic acne, maskne is caused by an external factor – a mask obstructing the skin and causing pimples. This type of breakout is especially prevalent on the bridge of your nose, cheeks and chin.

A few tips to treat maskne:

  • Wash your face regularly. Be meticulous about washing your face twice a day. At Stockton Dermatology we recommend using a product with benzoyl peroxide like CeraVe’s Acne Foaming Face Wash in the morning and a gentle cleanser in the evening. Stay away from harsh products, toners or exfoliators that will just cause more skin irritation.
  • Apply moisturizer. After washing your face apply a lightweight, oil-free, non-clogging moisturizer to prevent dryness and repair the skin’s natural protective barrier.
  • Skip the makeup. Right now, is a good time to let your skin breathe. Wearing too many products under your mask (i.e. foundation, concealer, powder) can cause a build-up and lead to additional breakouts.
  • Spot-treat when needed. If you’re already experiencing a crop of mask-related pimples, we recommend using a spot treatment like Neutrogena Rapid Spot Clear. A product like this helps resolve situational acne a day or two faster than leaving irritations to heal on their own. Whatever you do, don’t try to pick or pop a pimple. This is likely to lead to infection and possible scarring.

Also, make sure you are taking proper care of your mask. If you are using a cloth mask, wash it daily in warm water and dry it completely. If you are wearing a disposable mask, replace it as often as possible to avoid a build-up of oil and sweat or allow it to air out in between uses.

At Stockton Dermatology we are seeing an increase in acne mechanica. Since it looks like face masks are here to stay, be conscientious about taking care of your skin. If you experience maskne or other breakouts that persist more than a few days, consider reaching out to a dermatologist who will be able to provide expert advice and products to help deal with your skin concerns.

Written by: John Shaff, PA-C, DFAAPA, Stockton Dermatology

John Shaff, PA-C, DFAAPA at Stockton Dermatology in Ahwatukee, is a member of the American College of Surgeons, American Academy of Physician Assistants, and Arizona State Association of Physician Assistants and the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants. In 2017, Shaff was appointed by the Governor of Arizona to serve on the Arizona Regulatory Board of Physician Assistants.


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