Wearing a mask can get under your skin.
Ever since face coverings became a mandatory part of life, a nasty side effect has broken out in its wake: “Maskne.” The new phrase — which combines the words “mask” and “acne” — has recently sprung up all over social media as people suffering from the new kind of blemish are venting their woes about the skin care snafu.
“Shout-out to my fellow nurses as well as other health-care workers who are back in their teenage years covered with mask acne. I feel you,” writes Kayla Pyrah in a May 6 Instagram post.
Another user laments that “my mask is causing me to break out” and that maskne has become a “problem that I never thought I would have,” in an Instagram post from April 30.
But the problem isn’t just affecting hormonal teens, acne-prone adults or health-care workers wearing heavy duty N95 medical masks for hours at a time. Skin experts are noticing a major zit spike in clients who have never battled pimples in the past.
“The fact that we’re keeping something on such a sensitive area of the face . . . even people who haven’t suffered with a skin situation before are now dealing with the implications of that,” says New York City aesthetician Sofie Pavitt, who has been conducting dozens of remote acne consultations for clients while her Canal Street studio is closed due to the stay-at-home order.
And people’s self-confidence is plummeting, thanks to platforms like Zoom which force them to look at their own reflections more than ever.
“FaceTiming with family or attending a conference call on Zoom and not feeling good about what you see in that reflection in the camera right now everyone is struggling emotionally,” says Upper East Side dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe. “Skin issues are very much an exacerbating factor when it comes to mental health issues.”
Maskne — which is referred to as acne mechanica by derms — is caused by the combination of rubbing from the mask, which irritates the skin barrier, as well as the hot moisture trapped inside, which dilates the pores and allows bacteria and oil to clog them up. Once the follicles are trapped with gunk, they become inflamed, leading to nasty breakouts.
“We’ve seen it a lot with athletes . . . [like] people wearing a helmet, a baseball cap or even with certain instruments that rest against the chin area,” says Bowe. If left untreated, the mask, “which is a breeding ground for yeast and bacteria . . . could lead to infections that then require a prescription medication to clear it up.”
But before you even worry about tackling the bacterial buildup beneath the mask, make sure yours is clean.
“If you’re wearing a cloth mask, you want to wash it frequently . . . especially if you’re exercising,” says Bowe. If you’re using a disposable surgical mask, she suggests letting it dry out for 24 hours before wearing it again.
A diligent skin care regimen will help the skin bounce back from mask-inflicted congestion. Bowe advises you wash your face before and after wearing a mask, and choose a gentle skin cleanser that is free of harsh sulfates which can strip the skin of its protective oils.
“Massage it in with fingertips only — no loofah or abrasive scrubs right now,” says Bowe. “Then you want to pat dry with a clean towel.”
Follow up with a lightweight, fragrance-free moisturizer with ingredients like glycerin and niacinamide that help strengthen the skin barrier. Bowe also suggests waiting at least 15 minutes before putting on a mask so the skin can fully absorb the product.
“It’s hard to get that great seal of your mask if your skin is slippery from the cream,” says Bowe.
To treat an existing bout of maskne, Pavitt suggests stripping back all the aggressive ingredients in your routine — like serums and peels — and to instead incorporate salicylic acid, or another beta hydroxy acid, to clean out the pores. Just “limit the amount of acids used in the mouth area to prevent irritation,” she says.
Bowe recommends an exfoliating mask, such as Drunk Elephant’s “Babyfacial” ($80 at Sephora) in the evening once a week max, followed up by a night cream to restore moisture. Finish with a hydrating lip balm or serum to minimize chapping.
Although the steps seem tedious, experts believe the mask way of life is the new normal.
“This is something that we’re going to have to get used to. I don’t see us not wearing any masks anytime soon,” says Pavitt. “So it’s important to know how to react to it.”
Source: Read Full Article